health

There are 5 lockdown symptoms you shouldn't ignore. Here's what to do about them.

This post deals with mental health and might be triggering for some readers.

You don't even have to look around the room to feel the effect of this latest pandemic fallout. It's brutal. The psychological, physical, and emotional strain is everywhere. And it's not only felt by people in lockdown. 

There are those who are in states or regions where the long-term restrictions and border closures has affected every aspect of their lives. There's no more personal freedom. And seemingly no end in sight.

Watch: Everything that's happening in Sydney right now. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

And with growing uncertainty, lockdown fatigue is very much a real thing people are dealing with right now.

People are mentally and physically exhausted. 

According to a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in June this year, a fifth of Aussies are experiencing high levels of psychological distress during this period. It was found that the respondents also reported feeling nervous, fatigued, hopeless, restless and depressed.

Listen: A whopping 41 percent of people say they’re thinking about a major life change, 18 months into a global pandemic. So… are you thinking about quitting your job yet? Post continues after podcast.

The worst part? People aren't seeking medical help.

Dr Andrew Thompson, a registered doctor at InstantScripts said, "The pandemic has naturally deterred people from seeing a medical professional. In fact, those same ABS statistics reveal just 15 per cent of Aussies that experienced these symptoms sought professional help".

"We are in an abnormal situation where these symptoms will commonly arise. If these problems aren’t addressed however, it can lead to the emergence of more sinister issues, which can be more difficult to manage or resolve."

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So, how do you know if you need help? What kind of red flags should you look out for?

Here, Dr Thompson takes us through four most common physical and mental health symptoms people are currently experiencing in lockdown, and what you can do to combat them.

1. You're experiencing headaches.

Hands up who's had a headache for the past, like, 10 months? 

Whether you're working from home, home schooling, working AND homeschooling (you deserve a medal) or you've recently lost your job and trying to sort out your finances - there's no denying that stress is everywhere right now.

"This can be the result of additional stress and anxiety, as well as neck or shoulder pain and eye strain from increased screen use and a lack of an ergonomic remote working set up," adds Dr Thompson.

The good news is that you don't have to suffer through it. There are some really easy little tweaks you can make to your daily routine to ensure there's less tension.

"I recommend taking regular breaks from the screen and stepping outside for fresh air. Getting out into the sunlight or taking a walk can help ease stress and tension. Ensure you are also drinking plenty of water throughout the day."

If you're terrible at *actually* following through with the whole 'take a break' thing, why not set a timer on your phone and place it in another room - that way you have to get up, stretch your legs and maybe take your cute little self on a walk.

"Mindfulness and mediation techniques can also help alleviate stress. There are plenty of free online resources and videos to help you practice these techniques."

2. You're not sleeping well and feeling constantly tired.

Anyone else's sleep routine just completely off? Like, you're staying up super late, forever scrolling through news updates, and waking up way later than usual?

"It is important to maintain regular sleep and wake times and aim for eight hours of quality sleep each night," said Dr Thompson.

"Establishing a relaxing routine before bed is also important to help induce sleep and ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and energised. Limit screen use before bed and try reading a book or opting for a relaxing activity, such as meditation. Medications such as melatonin can also help."

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So, make sure you switch off. Give your mind a chance to rest, yeah? You'll feel better for it.

If you're worried that you're suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor and get a blood test to check your iron levels.

"Deficiencies in these areas can often lead to fatigue or insomnia," said Dr Thompson.

Listen to this episode of The Quicky, where host Claire Murphy discusses the psychological impact of uncertainty. Post continues after podcast. 

3. You're anxious and feeling mentally strained.

Here's the thing: You don't need to run a marathon or do a spin class to feel tired. High levels of mental effort and increased stress, teamed with your sleep routine being out of balance, can really pull a number on you.

Anxiety feeds on uncertainty, and with so many 'what ifs' right now, anxiety and the strain on your mental health is most likely thriving. 

Ever heard of an ‘adjustment disorder’? "This occurs when a person who does not have a mental health disorder suddenly develops symptoms associated with one," explains Dr Thompson.

If you're struggling, it's time to speak with someone. Chat to a doctor, psychologist or another medical professional who will be able to steer you in the right direction.

"There are services like InstantScripts that can provide Aussies with access to a doctor that can give them the tools to manage such symptoms. It is important for Aussies to seek advice from a GP or doctor during this time and for them to know that they are not alone," said Dr Thompson.

4. You have outbursts of frustration, anger and irritability.

If you've been feeling super angry and frustrated, we hear you. After all, there's A LOT to be angry about. "Mood swings can also be common during this period," confirms Dr Thompson. 

Not only is it natural and normal, but it's healthy (through the right outlet). However, when bottled up, anger becomes pretty dang unhelpful.

Make sure you talk it out with someone and work through your frustration in productive ways. While you might not be able to control the pandemic, focus on what you can do. 

And we know it might sound obvious, but make sure you take care of yourself. Turn off the news. Go for a walk. Organise a Zoom date with your friends and family.

"Don’t become too isolated. Continue reaching out to and communicating with family and friends, even if it’s just a phone or video call," suggests Dr Thompson.

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5. You're feeling unmotivated and 'gross'.

This is just a given, so don't beat yourself up about finding it hard to spark up the motivation to exercise. It shouldn't be a cause for concern or anything to worry about, unless it's affecting your physical and mental health.

Improving your sleep, creating a better routine and moving your body in some way can be a good influence on our mental health - helping to boost your energy and lower anxiety levels. 

"I think it’s important to try to maintain our regular routine," said Dr Thompson. "Staying active is really important, even if it’s a walk around the block."

"It is easy to become sedentary when we’re in lockdown but the positive benefits of physical activity on our overall health, and especially our mental health, can't be overstated."

Can you relate to any of the above symptoms? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature image: Getty

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