Life is full of ups and downs and no matter how hard we try to avoid them, it is inevitable that we will all experience low points at some time in our lives.
As this month marks a full year since Ireland entered its first COVID-19 lockdown, the true impact of the pandemic on our mental health is beginning to take shape.
If you think Covid-19 and/or associated restrictions have had an impact on how you feel, then you are not alone.
How the pandemic has impacted people in Ireland
One recent study conducted by the Central Statistics Office in Ireland found that 15% of the 1,621 participants reported feeling downhearted or depressed “all or most of the time” in the four weeks before they completed the online questionnaire. 45.4% of respondents also reported their intake of junk food and sweets had gone up, alongside 30.5% who reported an increase in their tobacco consumption, and 22.2% who reported an increase in their alcohol consumption.
Notably, 76.9% of survey respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned about the impact of confinement on household stress.
The good news is despite these statistics, if you or someone you know is struggling under pandemic restrictions, there are practical steps you can take to help you feel better.
Create a plan to start feeling better
Health Coach at Zevo Health, Bogdan Wawrzaszek says it is important to create a plan that can support you to feel better through challenging times rather than waiting for difficult times to pass.
He suggests incorporating a range of actions into your plan, such as making a conscious effort to identify people, things and events you are grateful for every day. You might even write down those things you are grateful for in a gratitude journal, and reflect on it when you are feeling especially low.
Bogdan also suggests monitoring your intake of bad news. When you are exposed to bad news repeatedly across multiple devices, the negative impact can be amplified.
Meditation is also a positive action that can help you combat stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation can help people manage their emotions and deal more effectively with problems.
Bodgan reminds us of the importance of eating well and getting enough sleep. During times of anxiety and stress we tend to sleep less and make poor eating choices. We need healthy food to fuel our bodies and sufficient sleep to rejuvenate and tackle the day ahead, so sleep and food can make a big difference to how we feel.
Perhaps most importantly, Bogdan says seeking help from a trained therapist or counsellor can provide you with strategies to cope and build resilience for the future.
Accessing 24/7 mental health support online and from a trained professional
Having 24/7 access to trained counsellors and therapists can be a lifeline when you are struggling to cope with your emotions.
Irish Life Health’s Healthy Minds service provides comprehensive support and practical advice to members day or night, right throughout the year. To access the Healthy Minds Service, call 1850 718 888 to speak directly to a counsellor.
Irish Life Health members can also access the LifeWorks app using their member number, for access to articles, toolkits, podcasts and assessments. You can even chat with a qualified member of the Lifeworks team via phone or directly via the app to give you the support you need, when you need it. Simply download the LifeWorks App and use ‘ILH-’ followed by your member number as your invitation code e.g. ILH-1234567.
Irish Life Health also offers a range of free online webinars produced by a global psychology support team that anyone can access, on topics such as emotional well-being during the pandemic, working remotely and how to talk to your child about Covid-19. You can access the webinars here.
To find out more about the Irish Life Health Healthy Minds program and how you can access support to help you cope during these challenging times, please get in touch with a member of the Hennelly Finance team.
We can help you navigate a variety of life’s challenges with advice and expert insight tailored to suit your circumstances. Call us on 091 670 123 or visit our website at www.hennellyfinance.ie for more details.
*Healthy Minds is available on all Irish Life Health plans. Service provided by LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell. Available to age 16+ where clinically appropriate. Terms and conditions apply. Irish Life Health dac is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.