Mental Health Awareness Week
2020 was a tough year for everyone. The pandemic put excessive stress on both our mental and physical health. As we come out of lockdown and restrictions continue to ease, its only natural that we experience some sense of anxiety about getting back to normal life. My own mental health took a battering last year as my business was forced to close and I lost everything that kept me mentally healthy. Socializing and seeing friends is a big part of how we live and we all suddenly had that taken away from us. We were thrust into an indoor existence spending hours stuck with our partners, children, families. Being able to offload stress is an important part of managing it and one of the ways we do this is to talk it through with someone. That may be at a therapy session, on a run with a friend or on a night out with friends. However you manage your stress this offloading is important. When you cant offload the stress it can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, lethargy or anger.
I was lucky that I was able to get out for my daily exercise and spent a large portion of last year running. I probably ran more than I ever have done as it was a way to get out into the fresh air and meet up with friends (how many depended on the restrictions in place at the time). I ran alone which gave me time to clear my thoughts and I ran with friends which gave me an opportunity to offload some of my stress. Without being able to get out and exercise regularly I’m note sure my mental health would be as good as it is now. It allowed me to scrape through the pandemic without too many mishaps.
Many weren’t as lucky and were confined to their homes, stuck homeschooling or locked away on their own. Schools closing meant children weren’t seeing friends and had the added stresses of exam pressure with no real guidance. It was an awful time for children and especially teenagers. My daughter turned 18 in 2021 and has missed pretty much most of her 6th form. The time she should be developing her confidence, building memories and having fun was instead spent on zoom or snapchat, not knowing what would happen about her A levels.
As we ease back into normal life we have to be kind to ourselves and make the changes gradually. Returning to normal things like going into a pub have become a minefield of questions and worries. Should be be booking holidays, concerts, parties???? Everything is still tainted with COVID and it will be still for several months. We can help ourselves though.
As we return to ‘normal’ it’s important we do so at a speed that suits us. Don’t rush to get back to normal, instead take each day step by step. Try to be patient as others adapt too, they may be doing so at a different pace. Don’t expect everyone to have the same standards as you, each of us is adapting in their own way and will have had their own trials to face. Take some time for yourself, try to have a quiet moment in the day to take stock of what is happening. Don’t be too self critical, this is something we’ve never experienced before so we don’t know how we should react to it. Its not like training for a marathon or competing in a race. The decline was long and steady and so the climb out should be well planned and thoughtful.
Make sure you talk to your friends and family. You can guarantee everyone is feeling slightly anxious in some way about the changing situation, talking about it promotes questions and then solutions to simple issues. Make sure you exercise. Exercise; especially outdoors, has proven time and time again to be good for our mental health. Get out for a walk, a run to get your heart and lungs working. This stimulates happy hormones in our body and makes us feel better.
I’ve seen lots of patients through lockdown with bad backs and knees and one thing I’ve done in all the cases is reassure. Just knowing what is wrong and how you can help yourself is often all that’s needed to get someone on the road to recovery. If you are worried about some painful symptoms then come and get checked over. Physiotherapists don’t just rub and massage we assess, advise, test, reassure, watch and reassure. We can help with returning to exercises or starting to exercise if you never have done.
Pick the things you can do to start to help yourself and your mental heath. If youre feeling low then talk to someone, if youre worried about pain in your body then get it checked, if youre worried about someone else then ask them if they are ok. Start with the little things and you’ll soon start to see the benefits.
If you are worried about returning to normal life there is help out there. Here are a few links of useful resources to help you navigate the route
Get in touch if you are interested in improving your physical health and getting fitter. Patients of KHPhysiotherapy can get access to local fitness facilities at a reduced rate. Here at KHPhysiotherapy you can feel supported to begin or continue your wellbeing journey and help make your mental and physical health the best it can be.