The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it as we approach the midway point of 2020. As the country enters a third month of lockdown measures, the pressures of staying at home are starting to affect our wellbeing. Schools, colleges, and universities across the UK were closed for the foreseeable future on 20th March, while three days later, those who had the ability to work from home were advised to do so.
The impact of several weeks at home, whether through working from home, being let go from work contracts, or just following Government guidelines, has left many people feeling isolated and lonely. The inevitable upheaval and lack of structure some are experiencing has brought about anxieties and worries that have been exacerbated by an inability to offload with friends and family, who are often in another household.
Mental health appointments at doctors’ surgeries have risen and a survey of 1,300 mental health doctors by the Royal College of Psychiatrists revealed that 43% of psychiatrists had seen an increase in urgent and emergency cases. These figures have been backed up by a survey carried out by Statista earlier this month, which found that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had a somewhat negative impact on the mental health of 34% of respondents.
As the UK Government introduces fresh guidelines on the easing of lockdown, we look at some ways you can maintain your mental wellbeing and socialise with others during the prolonged self-isolation period.
By the end of 2019, 8.7% of smart phone users had downloaded the video-sharing social network TikTok. Prior to lockdown it was forecast that this number would grow to 10% by the end of 2020, but such has been the surge in app downloads, that TikTok unveiled its first TV advertisement in the UK this week.
With posts ranging from 15 seconds to one minute in length, people are taking to the social channel to share their dance moves, create memes, and generally find a fun way to interact with people who share similar interests. So, whether you want to show off your latest lockdown hairstyle or set up a dance duet with celebrities, the platform is primed for some self-isolation socialising!
Socially distanced walks
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first phase in the easing of lockdown measures on 10th May and within those guidelines was the message that you can now meet up with one individual from another household at a time outdoors. While it is not inviting us to go out and have a street party, it does help us to restore a sense of community.
Getting out for some daily exercise and meeting up with a friend or family member will help with your mental wellbeing. Not only will you be releasing stress-busting endorphins through some daily exercise, but you will be able to improve your mood by sharing any problems or anxieties with another person.
Join virtual workouts with friends
The rise of the virtual workout has been staggering as those people who usually head to the gym after work are taking to cyberspace to get their daily or weekly workout fix. For many others, the boredom of lockdown and self-isolation has driven them to exercise.
Children across the UK have been encouraged to do morning workouts alongside personal trainer Joe Wicks on YouTube, but now many PTs are taking their classes online too. On 20th March, schools, colleges and universities were closed in a bid to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, Wicks’ subscribers have jumped from 842,000 to 2.4 million, as more than 169 million views of his videos were recorded.
If Wicks’ early start isn’t to your liking, many trainers have taken to Instagram. You can even be invited to go live with your trainer on Instagram to give that virtual class a little bit more authenticity — the only problem being that they will know if you have said you’ve joined the class, only to be sat on the sofa tucking into a packet of biscuits instead!
Sign up to free online courses
While it might feel like someone has pressed pause on our lives, lockdown is providing new ways for people to pass the time. The disappointment of being made redundant or placed on furlough for several months might be hitting the purse strings and raising anxieties. However, a proactive approach can be taken that will not only get you back into the working world but provide opportunities to socialise from the comfort of your own homes.
Educational institutions around the country are providing free online courses, some of which may take one to two hours to complete, and others that may need three to four weeks to finish. Tony Lewin, Principal of Newcastle College, which has launched a range of free courses, said: “We felt it was really important to offer support to people during this challenging period.
“Many of our free courses are aimed at helping people deal with some of the challenges that this pandemic has brought, whether it’s learning more about managing mental health, brushing up on computer skills or even learning about infection prevention and control.”
Learn a language
The growing nature and awareness around virtual meetings has brought video conferencing company Zoom into focus during the last eight weeks. It has opened doors for people to socialise across all sectors of society, including those who are trying to get to grips with languages.
The standard practice of listening to audiobooks or checking out language-learning site Duolingo, is being overlooked in favour of engaging with native speakers, or like-minded learners, to converse in that language.
So whether you are ordering dos cervezas – two beers – on your first trip to Spain after lockdown restrictions are lifted, or want to learn un petit peu de français – a little bit of French — then the avenues are there to help you do so!