The Pandemic and our Mental Health
By Maxine Howe, FdA, MBACP, MinstLM – Relational Counsellor, Counsellor for Options Wellbeing
To have a sense of control in our lives is innate to being human. It is an emotional hunger that enables the survival and evolution of our species. The level of control needed and how this is felt and expressed, varies from person to person.
The pandemic’s effects
However, the pandemic has in varied ways, stripped away our normal sense of control. This leads to feelings of loss, sadness, anger, and fear which can start to spiral in the continued uncertainty and change. Our survival response can be triggered (fight, flight, freeze or flop) causing severe emotional and mental distress, such as panic attacks or becoming depressed as we withdraw even further from society and our relationships.
Our own perceptions
It is then a small step to think “there is something wrong with my mental health”. We may then try to conceal our feelings from others, as we fear to burden them or imagine they are coping better than ourselves. It’s helpful to see this secondary response as a choice, over which we do have some control, through being aware of it and then by being brave to:
• acknowledge and show our true feelings and needs to others
• face the fear of judgment or rejection, by the others
• allow others the chance to be supportive and show how they are feeling too
• seek people to have these conversations with
• seek confidential counselling to help us understand and work through our difficult feelings
Talking helps to ease the intensity of our emotions so that they can feel more manageable; thereby we feel more in control.
Things can get better
The media refer to the emergence of a “Mental Health Pandemic”. At the same time, we can view our experience as normal human responses to an incredibly challenging situation. This brings hope that many of us can and will recover, finding new ways to cope in the future uncertainty.
By being a little braver to express ourselves we can encourage this in others and together, come through and come to terms with, these challenging times with greater resilience.
If you are experiencing a similar situation and would like to talk to someone about how we might help, get in touch by emailing us on email@example.com or calling us on 023 8063 0219. Alternatively, take a look at our self-help pages to find out more.