Returning Label volunteer Leah Langley observes the potential mental health struggles in the UK’s current lockdown climate, and how we can look out for others and ourselves. 

The impacts of the pandemic are being felt worldwide and one particular area that seems to be of key importance right now is mental health. More than 69% of adults in the UK have reported that they are worried about the effects of COVID-19 on their lives, with key issues seeming to be stress, anxiety and boredom. A longitudinal data study from the Understanding Society found that mental health has worsened substantially by around 8.1% since the pandemic hit, with young adults and women feeling the effects more than most. Whilst we are all trying to navigate this new way of life, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the everchanging environment that we find ourselves in.

Simple activities are one way that we could focus our attention elsewhere during this difficult time. Reading a book, watching a movie, colouring, or writing are all easy activities that can be undertaken in the home environment, without needing too many resources. It has been found that engaging in such activities has a positive impact on individual ratings of calmness and stress. Spending so much time inside can lead to us feeling like we should be productive with all of the time that we have suddenly found on our hands. Despite this, it can be increasingly difficult to focus on our work or education. However, if we feel up to it, we could try picking up a new hobby. Perhaps use this excess amount of time to try and learn that origami that you’ve always wanted to, or master being able to draw the face on all those mouthless portraits you have lying around. Equally, however, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to do these things. It is important to celebrate the small wins and achievements.

Where possible, make sure that you are using your 1-hour of exercise a day. It can be a great opportunity to explore new areas of the place that you’re in, and just seeing the light of day and feeling the winter-breeze briefly hit your cheeks can change your mood. Search for some local beauty spots that you can share with others when you are able to meet up again and try and find small joys in the sounds of the birds, or the vision of the colourful flowers.

One of the most vital pieces of advice that I have is to ensure that you are checking in with your friends. Some days, if you’re struggling, it can seem impossible to type out a short text message or arrange a FaceTime call, but the benefits far outweigh the costs of doing this. It is hard to not feel alone in the current climate and not everyone has the luxury of being in a warm house filled with family and friends. A simple check-in can go a long way in making your friends feel supported, and you’ll probably find that it lifts your mood too. Try and schedule weekly “meet-ups” where you come together with a few friends for fun catchups or spend time talking about some of your favourite memories. It can be nice to have a routine. Remember that no matter how hard it may seem, we’re all in this together and we will get through this.


Header designed by Frankie Stevens.


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