R you Okay? day is Thursday 9th September 2021. A reminder to check in with people around you and ask them how they’re really going?

Our psychologist Mitchell Howarth offers his advice on how we can support each other during this challenging time.

What are signs that someone is struggling with lockdown?

Everyone is coping with the lockdown in their own way. If a person shows the symptoms below day after day, it may suggest they are struggling with the lockdown.

Below is not an exhaustive list, but it includes the types of things you would expect to see in someone who is struggling. It is important to recognise these symptoms in yourself and others before they worsen or drag on.

  • Physical signs = aches and pains, fatigue, poor concentration, restlessness, muscle tension, stomach upset, changes in appetite.
  • Emotional signs = low mood, anxiety, stress, anger, irritability, feeling flat, being unable to feel pleasure.
  • Mental signs = excessive worry, hopeless or suicidal thoughts, losing interest in things you would usually enjoy.
  • Behavioural signs = poor sleep, eating too little or too much, using prescriptions irresponsibly, using drugs, drinking alcohol to excess, overspending, self-harm.

How to support yourself and others to stay positive during the lockdown?

We have little control over the lockdown. We can control how we react to it, though. Below are a few suggestions that you can use yourself or suggest to others. These tips help you cope with the stress of lockdown.

  • Maintain a healthy routine (e.g. daily exercise, 8 hours sleep, regular healthy meals, avoid drugs and alcohol).
  • Stay connected with people (e.g. friends, family, professionals).
  • Plan for the future (e.g. holidays, events, travel, adventures).
  • Remember what you are grateful for.
  • Limit your consumption of COVID information (e.g. limit gossip and small talk, stop reading or watching the news EVERY day).

Online Support

There are several apps that we can use to deal with the stress of the lockdown.

  • For those interested in meditation: Headspace and Calm are a good start.
  • For those wanting to plan their days better and be more productive, try Dailyo.
  • If you want to speak with a professional, call Lifeline (131114). Lifeline offers free telephone counseling, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is a burden to be locked down – and it is healthy to feel disappointed and frustrated by this. However, if you start showing the symptoms above, it may be worth checking in with yourself about how well you are coping. Remember, there are skills and people that can make this bumpy ride a little smoother.