As we all prepare to go into a national lockdown tomorrow (5 November), Cheshire East Council is advising residents of the importance of looking after their mental health during this difficult time.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be a longer-term challenge than many of us first imagined back in March, when we all experienced our first national lockdown. There has been growing concern about the pressures that the virus will have during the winter months and due to rising infection rates, these pressures and concerns have been realised as we all face lockdown restrictions once again.
A winter lockdown will feel very different due to dark nights and bad weather, and many people may be feeling burned-out and tired with the ongoing restrictions. It’s more important than ever to look after your mental health during what is set to be a challenging month for many people and their families.
Dr Matt Tyrer, Director of Public Health for Cheshire East Council said: “Winter is the time of year that many of us experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – this is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Symptoms can include a persistent low mood, irritability, feelings of despair and worthlessness and lacking energy.
“This winter has the added challenge of Covid-19 restrictions which for many people, may add to experiences of SAD or result in many people experiencing this winter depression for the first time.
“2020 has taught us all that mental health is so important and has enabled many people to reach out to others whichever way they have been affected by the pandemic – such as losing a loved one, losing their job, financial concerns and feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“We all must continue to speak to others and seek help from specialist organisations if we need to. There are a range of support groups and organisations, which will be open and running throughout the national lockdown. For details, visit: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell/health-matters/health-conditions/mental-health/mental-health.aspx.”
Councillor Jill Rhodes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for public health and corporates services, said: “Now more than ever we must pull together as a community to take care of ourselves and each other.”
Cheshire East Council appointed two mental health champions, Councillor Sally Handley and Councillor Jonathan Parry in April this year, to help combat the distress and anxiety many people are feeling during this uncertain time.
Councillor Sally Handley said: “We know many residents were enjoying being able to get back to socialising with friends following the earlier relaxation in measures around pubs and restaurants, and to get back some sense of normality that the countrywide lockdown took away. Sadly, this has now been reversed and we must adhere to the restrictions we had in place earlier in the year.”
Councillor Jonathan Parry said: “From Thursday 5 November we all must stay indoors, work from home where possible, not mix with another household apart from a support bubble and only shop for essentials such as food and medicines.
“It’s important that we all take care of our mental wellbeing during this time and check-in on friends and relatives, who may need our support.”
Ideas to protect and support mental health are:
● Have a routine and set short-term goals – plan regular calls/video calls with friends and relatives and make time for regular breaks if working from home;
● Plan leisure time and exercise – wrap up warm and head outside for a winter walk, discover online exercise classes, compile a reading list and set yourself a challenge, plan themed movie nights in and learn a new skill or rediscover an old one such as baking;
● Look at your sleeping habits – sleep is essential for our mental health, so keep track of how many hours sleep you get and practice good habits before bedtime to help you relax and unwind such as having a hot bath and a warm milky drink;
● Look at your eating habits – dark winter nights call for comfort food but over excessing can leave you feeling sluggish and can affect your mental health. Enjoy a balanced diet packed with plenty of energy and mood boosting foods such as fruit and foods rich in vitamin C and;
● Reach out for help as early as possible – seek help with things like debt, finances or practical support with shopping for food or medicines. Worrying about these will have a negative affect on your mental health.
Children and young people have returned to nursery, school and college following half term, however lockdown will be equally hard for some. If any children or young people are feeling low, they are urged to speak to their parents, carers, teacher or support worker and there are also a whole host of ways that the council can support them over the next few weeks.
Places to access help are also available on the children’s pages on the council’s live well section of their website, https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell/livewell.aspx
For further help and advice on mental wellbeing, including information on local support services, visit: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell/health-matters/health-conditions/mental-health/mental-health.aspx
For details on how Cheshire East Council can help with money worries or for information on debt charities such as the National Debt Line and Age UK, visit: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/housing/housing_options/housing_options_advice/money_matters.aspx
If you or someone you know need support from our People Helping People scheme, please visit: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_information/coronavirus/cheshire-east-people-helping-people.aspx
Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.
For more advice and information follow the council’s social media pages, visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/cheshireeastcouncil and Twitter at: @CheshireEast