The coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions it has placed on all our lives has proved a challenge to everyone’s emotional wellbeing. Since March 2020 there have been massive changes to our day to day lives which have changed how we work, socialise, and engage with other people. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to look at: the markers of good emotional health; some signs of when we could, or should, be concerned; and what tools or strategies we can use to support good emotional health during these difficult times.
It is extremely important to note that if you have any serious concerns about your emotional or mental health, or that of someone you know, then you should seek professional support as quickly as possible.
So, what are the signs of good emotional health?
In simple terms you may broadly describe yourself as ‘happy’, but when we look at behaviour traits these can include amongst other things:
• You treat others well. Viewing other people with compassion and treating them with kindness is a hall mark of your own well-being
• You like who you are
• You’re flexible
• You hold gratitude for your loved ones
• You’re in touch with your emotions
• You have meaning in your life
• You value experiences more than possessions
Conversely what are the symptoms of poor emotional health?
• Feeling sad or down
• Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
• Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
• Ex Withdrawal from friends and activities
• Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
It is worth noting that we all feel some of these things at various points in our lives but if these things persist it can be a sign that we may need some additional support. Or that we need to consider how we take steps to address the aspects of our lives that are negatively impacting on our emotional health.
It is important to note that what we are describing here relates to people’s emotional health and should not be confused with a person’s mental health. The difference between emotional health and mental health is that a person’s mental health relates to how well their mind processes and understands information and experiences. In contrast, emotional health involves a person’s ability to manage and express the emotions that arise from what they have learned and experienced.
So, what can we do to support good emotional health?
Setting boundaries within the home, such as keeping a boundary between the space you work in and the space you relax in can be helpful if possible. Where space is limited and the use of separate spaces is not possible it can help to ensure that work/school materials are tidied away at the end of the day.
Make sure you get outside. It’s really important to build time in your day to get outside, natural daylight and physical activity are great boosts to our emotional health.
Try and come to terms with the new normal as acceptance is often associated with better emotional health. It is not about giving up or being defeated, its more about a willingness to experience a situation as it is and to be ok with the uncertainty of the situation. It can also be important to recognise that it is ok not to be ok, try to be kind to yourself on those difficult days.
Try to make sure you have social support by building a supportive community around you. Stay in touch with people by scheduling regular calls with your family and friends, as social support can help in stressful circumstances. Put time in your diary to meet up with friends or colleagues, be that in person or via a video call, it’s important to have things to look forward to. (Remember to follow government guidelines as these are continually changing)
Keep some sense of routine and structure as this can also help manage difficult situations.
Manage anxiety by managing the information you consume. This means trying to limit the amount of information you read, or the sources that it comes from. For example, sticking to a government website and trying to give yourself some free screen time. Social media can be a great source of information and connection, but it can also be overwhelming and increase anxiety. If you are finding it unhelpful just try and take a step back from social media platforms, at least for a few hours a day.
Most importantly seek help if you need it. You can utilise your family and other support networks, or even some of the following organisations if you need to talk: