Covid-19 Lockdown: Psychologist reveals impact on mental health & how to cope

The Covid-19 Lockdown

On 23 March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a lockdown in the UK to combat against the Coronavirus pandemic that the world is now undergoing; furthermore, Dominic Raab, UK Foreign Secretary, announced on 16 April 2020 that the lockdown has been extended for another three weeks after being reevaluated.

“We still don’t have the infection rate down as far as we need to.

The worst thing that we can do right now is to ease up too soon, allow a second peak of the virus to hit NHS and hit the British people.”

Dominic Raab , UK Foreign Secretary

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said, the lockdown will not be eased unless five conditions have been met:

  1. Making sure the NHS could cope.
  2. A “sustained and consistent” fall in the daily death rate.
  3. Reliable data showing the rate of infection was decreasing to “manageable levels.”
  4. Ensuring the supply of tests and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) could meet future demand.
  5. Being confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak.

While taking these very necessary measures in order to save more lives and protect the NHS, this has nonetheless put those who have apreexisting mental health condition at risk. Furthermore, many psychologists have taken the necessary actions that are needed in order to assist their clients as they struggle with their psychological issues.

How is the Covid-19 lockdown effecting people’s mental health?

Psychologist Charlotte Armitage, along with many other psychologists, has made herself available to her clients during the Covid-19 lockdown. Likewise, Armitage spoke with me about how the lockdown has impacted people’s mental health conditions.

Thus, Psychologist Armitage explained the ways in which she is assisting her clients during this pandemic.

“So, I’m using Zoom and the telephone to communicate with people. Some people it’s just not appropriate to communicate with at this time, because of their home environment as well. So it’s not necessarily an easy place for them to communicate, but other people, yeah they still want to talk. And they still need that regular consistent support and advice.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

Armitage also said, the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has not only affected those who have preexisting mental health conditions, but it has also affected those who don’t.

“You know I think everybody is experiencing this on some level at some point throughout this virus pandemic. I don’t think it’s just people with preexisting mental health conditions that will be struggling at the moment.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

Psychologist Armitage said, the most common problem she is noticing is that people are finding it hard to adjust to the instability of this pandemic. Armitage said, “everybody feels unstable and that’s because the environment’s unstable.” Additionally, this instability has became a trigger for people who already have a mental health condition or those who have an underlying one.

“It’s a trigger, the instability is a trigger, and for people who need stability to remain psychologically well, this level of instability could be very unsettling for them and that kind of stuff can trigger off a mental health problem, so yeah I think it’s safe to say I’ve noticed it with everybody around me that people are struggling.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

Armitage said, even people who may have suffered from an addiction previously are being affected as those addictions are starting to resurface while undergoing lockdown.o.

“It’s possible that that addiction could come back, because they are finding that this is a stressful environment.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

Video featured below: You can hear more from Psychologist Charlotte Armitage about the psychological impacts of Covid-19 for people’s mental health.

Part 1 – Psychologist Charlotte Armitage explains mental health impact of Covid-19 lockdown

How to cope with Covid-19 lockdown?

As many people are feeling very unstable and anxious during this pandemic, they are trying to find ways to cope and function while in isolation.

Psychologist Charlotte Armitage spoke with me about the ways in which she recommends to people on how they can get through this pandemic, while also taking care of their mental health.

During our conversation, Psychologist Armitage gave so many different examples that can be very useful to those who are struggling with anxiety and depression, during the Covid-19 lockdown. For example, doing just the simple things, such as deep breathing and being present in the moment, are just a few of the many recommendations she suggested.

Specifically, Armitage spoke with me about three techniques that she has recommended to her clients during this time Covid-19 lockdown that can be helpful: framing techniques, grounding techniques, and creating your own stress relief kit.

1. Framing techniques

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According to the Decision Lab, “the Framing effect is the principle that our choices are influenced by the way they are framed through different wordings, settings, and situations.” Therefore, by changing the ways in which we think or the words that we use, it could potentially be a positive change for those who are struggling.

Psychologist Armitage said, “You can look at framing by the way you view things, which is called cognitive restructuring.” Furthermore, she has noticed people using the framing technique on social media.

“I keep seeing posts that say, You are not stuck at home, you are safe at home.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

2. Grounding technique

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According to Living Well, “Grounding exercises are things you can do to bring yourself into contact with the present moment – the here and now. They can be quick strategies (like taking three deep “belly breaths”) or longer, more formal exercises (like meditation). Different strategies work for different people, and there is no “wrong” way to ground yourself. The main aim is to keep your mind and body connected and working together.”

Psychologist Armitage explained how to utilise the grounding technique for those who are struggling with their mental health while they are Covid-19 lockdown.

“You can do things called 5,4,3,2,1 – which is you name 5 things in the room that you can see, 4 things that you can touch, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you smell, and 1 thing you can taste. And that helps the senses of that down and brings you back to the space.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

3. Create your own stress relief kit

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According to the Mindful Living Network, “a stress relief kit is simple to make and can be a Mindful way to promote Mindful Health. It contains prepared tools and supplies that’ll stop stress in its tracks before it escalates. Having the right references and tools can help. An emergency stress relief kit is easy to put together and doesn’t cost much.”

Furthermore, Psychologist Armitage explained how to create a stress relief kit. A stress relief kit can be beneficial for a person and their psychological well-being in order to help them through the Covid-19 lockdown.

“It could have something that you like the smell of in there and you can have music in there or a sound – something you like the sound of, something you like the feel of that might feel nice in your hands, or even a nice picture. So it’s basically putting all of your defences into this bag. And whenever you find yourself really struggling you can go to it and you can pull out a picture and look at that. Or you can pull out things that smells nice or you can get the things that feels nice, like a blanket or whatever it is and you can, you know, just hold that, because that could be quite grounding for you.”

Charlotte Armitage, Psychologist

Video featured below: You can hear more from Psychologist Charlotte Armitage and her recommendations of coping with a mental health condition while in isolation of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Part 2: Psychologist gives tips on how to handle mental health during Covid-19 lockdown

As many anxiously await for the lockdown to be lifted and for the Coronavirus pandemic to be over, Psychologist say taking care of your own mental health during this time is crucial – help is still available and so are the resources.

Psychologist Charlotte Armitage said, if you are really struggling with your mental health and you need to speak to someone you can contact Mind at  0300 123 3393 or you can go to the Mind Website to find information on how to understand your anxiety, how to cope with your anxiety, how to distract yourself with soothing activities, and stories of other’s who struggle with their mental health as well.

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