Spotlight on Mental Health
by Carolyn Barber
International research is now telling us a lot more about the impact of Covid 19 on our mental health, and the picture is not good. What does the research tell us about those who are less stressed, depressed or anxious? There's a lot we can't control about the current situation, so what can we control?
. For example, research from 28 countries conducted in mid-March found that the more people used social media, the more fearful they were. Frequent social media users in China were more likely to feel both depressed and anxious at the same time. So consider putting limits on your use of Facebook.
Does that mean ignorance is bliss? Definitely not! It's about finding the right sources of information. The research tells us that being informed helps to reduce uncertainty and anxiety. Its all about finding the right balance as overloading ourselves with information can cause more worry.
Online or offline, reading news or imagining worst-case scenarios with family, the people who spent three or more hours a day focusing on COVID-19 were more anxious. So make sure you take good long breaks from news and social media.
Practising basic safety and hygiene can also help with your mental health. In Chinese studies in January and February, people who engaged in proper hand washing, wore masks, and avoided sharing utensils tended to experience less depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD.
Its important to remember that we can’t self-improve our way out of the pain and difficulties created by Covid 19. We’re going through a collective trauma, or at the very least a major stressor on a global scale, and the task is to build our emotional resilience to pull us through this time. Life really is harder by a little bit or a lot, depending on your situation. Many of us will be facing really difficult feelings of fear, sadness, anger and loss, but this is part of being human—even as we continue to do our best to feel better, stay connected, and help others.