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  • nickysquires

Thoughts on Coronavirus, Trauma, Compassion & Hope

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

The events of the last 12 months have been unprecedented and, sadly, the impact of the Coronavirus on the nation’s mental health is likely to be felt long after the current pandemic is over. The rapid shift we’ve all had to make from a “normal life” to living with extreme uncertainty, has left little time for us to re-orientate ourselves and, with no clear end in sight, it's easy to see why so many of us feel we've lost control of our lives. This hasn't been helped by round-the-clock news and social media coverage, bombarding us with horrific statistics and images of suffering and loss, which can overwhelm our nervous systems.

Over this time, as well as dealing with their own fears and worries, many have had to continue going to work, to care for others and/or to support their families. Front-line key workers, such as nurses, have witnessed terrible scenes of human suffering, whilst bravely trying to carry on doing their jobs, often working in very difficult conditions. Bus drivers, teachers and supermarket staff have continued to provide essential services to their communities, whilst fearing for their own safety and that of their family members. Unfortunately, many have also been struggling to ‘carry on’ whilst still grieving the loss of friends or relatives, or feeling increasingly anxious about their own future, as more people lose their jobs. Trying to do the “right thing” for others at a time of trauma, is, unfortunately, likely to leave unresolved baggage behind, which could have a devastating impact on our mental health, now and in the future. Sometimes, the effects of trauma are not experienced immediately and can develop many days, months, or even years after.

That’s why we’re all going to need to be vigilant for many months and years to come, so we are alert to the signs that a loved one, work colleague or friend isn’t coping. It’s also important that, as a society, we continue to challenge the stigma associated with mental health difficulties, so that people feel able to reach out to others, if they find they’re struggling. It may seem better, in the moment, to dismiss, or avoid experiencing negative emotions, or to keep them bottled up inside because we don’t want to ‘burden’ others with our problems. However, these emotions and thoughts exist whether we’re paying attention to them or not and if they’re ignored, or denied, they will build-up and the impact will, eventually, be far worse.

Even with the vaccine rollout underway, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s not going to be a quick fix for the mental health problems that have arisen from the pandemic. Many of us will take a long time to feel like we’re back to any form of 'normality' and, unfortunately, some may never get over the effects of their traumatic experiences. Given that we've all gone through these shared experiences together, amongst the terrible anxiety, grief and loss, I believe that there is also hope. There appears to be increasing acceptance that mental health issues are not something to be ashamed of and that, like physical health conditions, they can affect anyone. The pandemic has also highlighted how much we all rely on each other and there's growing recognition of the need to show compassion and kindness towards others. It's, therefore, my hope that these will prove to be permanent changes, so that as and when when the pandemic comes to an end, rather than simply getting back to the way thing s were before, we can focus on building a more tolerant, compassionate and caring society for the future.

#selfacceptance #lifestyle

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