2020 has been a year of isolation with everyone locked in at homes and only being able to see friends and family over zoom. While the virus is now contained and 75% of the adult population has had one dose of the vaccine, we are still reeling from the effects that isolation has had on our mental health.
In a paper published by The Journal of Clinical Nursing, Kim Usher and Deborah Jackson discuss how much of a toll the isolation has had, linking the long lockdowns to PTSD symptoms. With each new lockdown, the isolation periods are becoming more and more traumatic for people’s mental health.
“Social isolation associated with quarantine can be the catalyst for many mental health issues even in people who were previously well. These can include acute stress disorders, irritability, insomnia, emotional distress, and mood disorders, including depressive symptoms, fear, and panic, anxiety, and stress because of financial concerns, frustration, and boredom, loneliness, lack of supplies, and poor communication
Now that we are allowed back outside, this should be all good, but according to Kim and Deborah, there are still consequences of this long isolation. To look at what might occur, they looked at what happened following the SARS epidemic of 2003;
“Following the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) health crisis a range of avoidance behaviours such as reduced direct contact with other people and crowds, less social contact, avoiding enclosed and public places, not returning to work and long-term behavioural changes, for example, excessive handwashing, were reported post quarantine.”
With this in mind, it is so important to use this time now to get back into society and see the people that you love. It can be all too easy to say that you are too busy to see people, but it just adds to the continual downward spiral into loneliness.
While the whole world is reeling from these periods of isolation, this isn’t something new for first-time mothers. With a young little baby that they are taking care of, their world dramatically shrinks, and often friends can fall by the wayside for a period of time. 68% of new parents feel cut off from their family and friends when a little one comes along. While you might want to spend time seeing friends, chances are that you are too anxious about leaving the baby or too exhausted to see them.
Overcoming this fear is key to starting the upward spiral of happiness after isolation. Making time to see your friends, if only for a quick coffee puts one in a positive mood. As a young parent, it is so important that you take your time with your baby, but that you ensure your own happiness as well.
Now that lockdown is easing and we are allowed to hug people again, make sure that you spend time seeing people who make you happier, as this is a way to help deal with the negative effects of the constant isolation we have experienced.