How we’re managing our mental health in the third national lockdown
It's only natural for lockdown restrictions to take a toll on our mental health. We asked seven of our Activists how they're coping and what tips they have for managing. Here's what they said.
Going back into lockdown has meant my mental health team are overstretched. I haven't been able to access the support I need. I've reached out to my team and they didn't answer for days. I fell through the gaps. But I've been finding community in free Zoom events to go to on Eventbrite, which has been fun. I try and take in nature at least once a day and do little things I'll enjoy.
I hadn’t been seeing friends or family at all since October as I’m high risk, so in that way, things haven’t been that different. However, the new lockdown has impacted the way I get support from social care services as it has to be done remotely again. I’m also worried as this summer I’m being discharged from the therapist I’ve seen for the last three years and I don’t know if we’ll be able to see each other face to face for our final few appointments at this rate.
My main feeling about the third lockdown is that I’m tired. I’m not against lockdown, however, I do feel that the whole situation has been poorly managed in a way that’s left behind people with mental illness. I haven’t had face-to-face mental health care since February 2020, I was discharged from my community mental health team as psychiatrists were being transferred to work in the new COVID wards, and I went seven months with no group therapy as the NHS didn’t have the resources to run it online. A lot of the community projects that I relied on to manage my mental health aren’t running at all or are running on Zoom, which doesn’t work for me. I also live alone, and the idea of not seeing anyone for at least a month is very daunting.
I’ll get through this the same way I’ve been getting through the last year. Keeping in contact with friends through social media, exercising when I can, and keeping myself distracted with hobbies such as reading and art.
I worry every day that my brother is going to bring coronavirus back home from work. I've become hyper-vigilant, but I’m hopeful to see the progress of vaccination roll out.
Going into a third lockdown is scary; the other two were hard to deal with so this time I'm just allowing myself to be. Taking care of myself is the most important thing, and I won't feel bad if that's all I manage in this difficult time.
Fortunately, we are getting used to the ever-increasing lockdowns, but it’s difficult not knowing when we are coming out of it, which has made me feel slightly lost and down.
I think it’s important to try and recognise the positive progress we’ve made and look ahead to what we’re looking forward to, like being able to do the small things in life again that we’ve been missing. Going on a train, having a cup of tea in a café, enjoying being with people without the worry.
My girlfriend and I have started creating a garden plot, where we’ve planned out the plot and started digging up all the beds ready for planting next month. We’re going to be planting lots of different wildflowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables. The process is incredibly rewarding and waiting to see the results gives us something to look forward to.
With the pandemic, myself and my partner knew before Christmas we would be going into another lockdown, so we had actually prepared ourselves. However this has meant we have essentially been following lockdown guidelines for a few weeks already and means we haven’t been able to see any family or anything.
We have found this lockdown to be much less stressful in terms of news and media as I’ve put an almost-ban on it in our house so we aren’t getting caught up in things we don’t need to worry about. We check our local shop opening times and information before we go and then we come home and do our day-to-day things. Once a week we go for a walk to get some fresh air and exercise. Limiting media has definitely made a positive impact on our household and how we are managing through lockdown. I think this is because we are not worrying ourselves so much with counts and tolls and speeches, and rather enjoying time together playing, baking, working, studying and watching TV.
The hardest part is not being able to see family but something we all keep saying is this is only temporary and we’d rather be safe than sorry. I have lost people through the pandemic, and I just think it’s important for people to respect the restrictions regardless of their opinion. Lockdown is a short-term solution if we do it right; going against the restrictions only drags it out longer. Be safe, be respectful and be responsible.
Lockdown this time feels different. With the winter nights, the darker days, and colder weather, there is a very different feel around. No longer are we using lockdown to work in the garden in the sunshine, cycle, and go on long walks, but instead many of us are stuck inside, wondering when this ‘new normal’ will end.
Lockdown this time around feels harder, and more claustrophobic. I feel more trapped inside my flat, and it does feel more exhausting. Not knowing how long this may go on for is hard, especially living alone, but the hope of the vaccine does help.
My tip would be to feel what you are feeling. It is okay to be sad or disappointed. Never push back what you are feeling because you think that someone else has it harder. If you are upset, angry, hurt, disappointed, allow yourself to feel those things. Your feelings are valid.
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, you're not alone. For tips, advice and information on where you can get support with whatever you're going through, have a look at our find help page.