Post-lockdown mental health struggles continue to spiral

By Tiffany Pizzuto @tiffanytulip_

The lockdown restrictions that were in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continue to cause havoc on several aspects of our wellbeing, in particular psychological distress.

In 2020-21, 43.7% of people reporting said that they had experienced a mental disorder according to Australian Bureau of Statistics. In a Headspace survey 86% of young Aussie people reported negative impacts on their wellbeing.

While getting back into social settings has been a long-awaited relief, many of us are finding difficulties in re-adjusting to the full-time hustle and bustle. In a scientific study from Frontiers, 44% of responders reported moderate to high levels of adaptation difficulties.

Given the ongoing pandemic stress, mental health communications specialist Kim Borrowdale provided insight on how to cope.

“Spotting the signs that someone’s behaviour has changed,” said Borrowdale. “If a friend starts suddenly rejecting social invitations or if they’re experiencing a life change, check in with them.”

“Think about the things you usually do that give you joy and keep an eye out for when you may not be doing those things – this could be a sign that you’re [neglecting] self-care efforts. Think about what your warning signs are when you’re starting to struggle and keep a check of them when you’re going through a tough time.

“Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming actions. Simple habits such as regular walks or morning coffee breaks without screen time. Make your self-care activities work in your context – achievable, realistic and regular.

“Be kind to yourself. Your usual routine and coping mechanisms have been tested. Planning an enjoyable activity or meeting with a friend weekly, or talking to at least one person – whether it’s someone walking their dog or the local barista.”

Kim suggests reaching out to support services.

“Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Line for support people with challenges as a result of COVID. No problem is too big or too small to give them a call or chat online,” she said. “Reaching out to trusted family members, friends, classmates or colleagues who you can talk with about how you’re feeling. You might find that they have similar issues facing this new post lockdown life.”

Taking notice, checking in, practicing micro self-care, taking small steps and seeking support are helpful ways to cope with the difficulties outlined by Kim.

Depending on the situation there may be ways to make the change more accommodating where possible, e.g., seeking support with studies if you are struggling.

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