We asked an expert why this lockdown feels the most hopeless

‘Covid fatigue is affecting us all’

Lockdown 3.0 has hit many of us like a tonne of bricks but it was less than a year ago that lockdown 1.0 brought a real sense of community to a lot of people. We clapped for the NHS, made so much banana bread that we lived off it for weeks and learnt numerous TikTok dances. So why has this lockdown got so many of us down?

It’s often hard to be open about how you’re feeling and harder still to get your friends to open up. But it’s more important than ever to start having these conversations, particularly amongst students. With the pressure of deadlines and exams and a distinct lack of support from universities, students are being overlooked and expected to sort themselves out whilst the rest of the nation relies on support.

The Tab spoke to a psychologist to determine why this lockdown feels so different and to find ways you can help yourself and those around you.

Covid fatigue is a factor

Psychologist Dr Tara Quinn-Cirillo said: “After nearly a year of restrictions as a result of the pandemic ‘Covid fatigue’ is a factor. Three lockdowns and the confines of home or student accommodation can take their toll.”

Restrictions have meant many people have gone prolonged periods without social interaction which can have a significant impact on an individual. Many uni students have also been separated from their family for an extensive period of time and with the addition of small rooms and general student accommodation, this can make lockdown all the more isolating.

Many young people feel panicked about their futures after the pandemic

Dr Quinn-Cirillo also acknowledged that many people are concerned with not only the current state of the pandemic but also the long-term impact it is going to have. The situation we find ourselves in is ever-changing which can be difficult enough in itself to manage. But with the additional worry of how Covid is going to impact your future and your career, particularly after a year of restrictions, it can make the current climate seem all the more unbearable.

A lot of people don’t have a steady routine

Dr Quinn-Cirillo said winter and January is a difficult time for many, and with the addition of another lockdown it has made this time much more of a struggle. Many people suffer from seasonal depression and with darker, colder days it’s not hard to understand why.

The announcements of restrictions being introduced and removed has left a lot of people feeling confused as to where we currently stand. It’s hard to look forward to things when we aren’t sure what’s going to happen in the next week let alone any further in advance.

Dr Quinn-Cirillo said: “Many people are not having routines that aid their wellbeing e.g. gyms/social clubs/jobs/voluntary work. These are normally stabilising factors for many and can create a sense of routine and purpose.”

Many of us have spent long periods indoors, on phones and away from others

SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is especially prominent now because it’s winter and we’re stuck inside for most of the day. Dr Quinn-Cirillo suggested: “Move your body (simple but effective). Physical exercise is great for our physical and emotional health.” You should also try to “get outside and get some natural daylight as often as you can.”

It can also be beneficial to limit sources of stress and anxiety including social media and news updates, and take the time to look after yourself and rest.

She also noted it is important to bring some structure back to your day, which “can help create a stable base when the world seems an uncertain place”. Get a good sleep routine and stick to it. “Try and separate your bed from study if possible and try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day”, Dr Quinn-Cirillo said.

Try and find snippets of joy each day to boost your mood

Although there isn’t much to look forward to right now, Dr Quinn-Cirillo recommended we “try and find snippets of joy each day – an enjoyable snack, meal, video call to a loved one, book, TV, film you love, a video clip you enjoy.

“Hope – remember this is a new factor now, a way forward. Planning for the future from small to larger things. Who, what, when do you value and how will you engage in these things in the future?”

Withdrawal and changes in appearance are key signs someone is struggling

There are a number of ways people may express that they are struggling. Difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from people and interests, changes in appearance, for example if they have stopped following their normal personal care routine, are all possible signs.

If you are living with someone struggling, you may notice changes in behaviour of day-to-day activities including when they sleep, what they are eating, whether they are eating the same amount and lowered mood.

They could have increased anxiety and have symptoms including feeling nauseous, butterflies in stomach and increased sweating or shaking. “It is important to get any concerning symptoms checked with your GP too”, Dr Quinn-Cirillo added.

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