Locking Down The world
How Lockdown affects the Mind And Body. 26/11/2020
With a seemingly normal Christmas and new year the world waved goodbye to 2019 and the dawn of 2020 began. Like any other year, the usual aspirations for a more prosperous year was in everyone’s thoughts, as the monotonous drudge of getting back to normality after the festive season began. Even though early reports of covid-19 in December 2019 were announced, the majority of the population continued with normal life and just saw it as another outbreak far away from them similar to ebola. However, as the first few months of 2020 passed by, a shadow began to loom over an unsuspecting world with an uneasy feeling never felt before in recent times.
News and media began bombarding the public with the new boogeyman called coronavirus, and how it’s an airborne virus that can be spread easily by touch or breathing, the kind only ever seen before in science fiction movies or comic books. There then followed unprecedented campaigns to educate people on the dangers and how to “stay safe”. Lockdowns were then announced in mid to late March and enforced across the world.
Before discussing how lockdown affects the mind and body, it is imperative to know that whether your belief is that of a coincidental or an instigated pandemic, the consequences of lockdown affect each and every man, woman, and child in one way or another regardless.
The First Lockdown.
Enforcing lockdown on the public was a new thing not only for us but also for governments. As no infrastructure for such profound legislation existed. It was almost like a scramble to get everything into place and for people to actually get their heads around it. Nevertheless, we all conformed and stayed at home following the guidelines that our governments had stated. In the beginning, most of us had strange feelings with an apocalyptic vibe going around. Interaction with people was mainly via social media and by phone and those who were allowed to work did so accordingly.
As the days and weeks rolled on many actually enjoyed the initial lockdown by interacting more closely with their family at home and engaging more with hobbies and d.i.y. Spirits were high as health workers were praised and communities engaged in morale-boosting events in neighborhoods whilst still maintaining their distance.
Consequences and Repercussions
A new fear had been implanted on the population with many store owners that were allowed to stay open confronting customers with hysteria about nonconformity on the new measures. Despite it being the first lockdown many jobs were lost and many businesses folded. People had entered a new state of mind, one where finger-pointing and aggression were aimed at those not following the rules, causing the collapse of friendships and relationships.
A sense of self-righteousness in people who conformed without question and humbleness in others who had lost a usual working pattern and were now plunged into a sea of uncertainty. The general feeling of hope however reigned supreme, and the thought of everything going back to how it was kept most of us battling on.
The Second Lockdown
Currently, we are on the so-called second wave of the pandemic and again predetermined dates have been announced for the beginning and end of lockdown. This time around things are very different, most of the infrastructure is already in place due to the first lockdown with most people falling into place and conforming to the new set of rules. Advertising has been stepped up now depicting mask-wearing and social distancing as completely normal.
Again many nonessential businesses have been suspended increasing the stress and uncertainty in many households, forcing people to find alternative means of income with some even resorting to illegal methods. An abundance of ill-feeling, contempt, and hopelessness is developing amongst people, this time seeing things differently with the added confusion and horror of pending vaccinations and heavy fines all leaning towards totalitarianism. The window of hopefulness where everything goes back to normal seems to be getting smaller and smaller.
Lockdown and quarantine are for those who are infected or carry a contagious sickness and not for healthy human beings. Physical and mental health issues are currently going through the roof all around the world. Let’s look at how humanity is being damaged.
Lack of Social Interaction
Human beings are an ultra-social species, therefore being restricted from meeting friends, family and loved ones has a tremendously negative impact on the mind. Many do not even realize this but not having a social support system is actually a starting point for chronic stress in our bodies. With loneliness, cortisol stress hormone levels spike, increasing the chances of cardiovascular disease and an impaired immune system amongst other health and wellness issues. Many people in isolation have even developed a loathing for the general public increasing anti-socialism further. One study conducted way back in the 1970s clearly indicates lonely people actually die younger from any cause than those with an active social life.
Prolonged periods without social interaction can cause chronic stress
Human nature’s default setting is to be social, to laugh, to talk, to hug, and to be hugged. A further test clearly shows that just holding someone else’s hand substantially decreases one’s emotional response to a perceived threat.
I could go on and on quoting study after study but simply put it does not matter if you believe you’re fine with being alone with your dog, it simply isn’t healthy, humans need other humans. You can only be alone for so long, eventually, health issues of some kind will develop. Technology is often praised for bringing us together, and in some synthetic way it does, but being behind a screen seemingly socializing has already proven to have a negative impact on health.
“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.”
Depression and Anxiety
In these trying times how many of you find even doing the simplest of tasks difficult? The sheer sense of hopelessness can strip even the strongest people of self-motivation. In lockdown people’s tolerance to even the slightest of things has dramatically lowered. The thought of having nothing to look forward to, coupled with thoughts of future uncertainties due to losing a job or not being able to see an elderly loved one can swamp minds with endless anxiety. This has a huge impact on the respiratory system even more so if you suffer from asthma. Anxiety disorder can also cause headaches, insomnia and muscle tension.
Thinking back to more prosperous and joyful times of how normal life used to be can be a trigger for depression. A suppressed locked down lifestyle is the ultimate environment for people to fall into such a state. Being non-social as mentioned previously can also invoke depression.
A huge social and economic uncertainty associated with Covid-19 may be causing some people to feel lost and hopeless. Recent studies have shown suicidal thoughts up from 8% to 10% these being higher amongst younger people (18-29 years). Despite being a small rise it is very significant as the increase only spans through a tiny period of time. Social isolation and loneliness are also connected to poor mental health, causing some to require an escape in the form of alcohol and substance abuse. Shops and businesses deemed nonessential by governments are obviously essential to the owners whose livelihoods are being threatened. This impacts the mind by creating panic and worry as to how bills and overheads will be paid, further growing into a sense of entrapment and lowered self-esteem in the prospect of having to rely on government handouts.
Other woeful thoughts emerging in these strange times are feelings of meaninglessness and attitudes of “what’s the point?” Humans that are restricted in lockdowns begin to lose drive and motivation to do things.
One such example was a neighbor of mine who had recently lost his job and was self-isolating during lockdown. I noticed his once pride and joy of a car just sitting under a tree day after day gathering dirt and leaves. One morning I captured a glimpse of him over the wall so decided to say hello. We spoke about the current predicament and I also mentioned his car that had been neglected. He replied ” ah what’s the point? I don’t go anywhere anymore, I’ve got no job, my gym is closed and I really cannot be bothered to clean it” This once vibrant energetic, and enthusiastic man had been chopped down to this as a direct result of lockdown.
I too have seen this first hand and the effect it is having on my own two sons, one of them has had his barbershop suspended and the other has been told not to attend school and instead do online schooling at home. Both of them are without a doubt in a state of limbo, less active, less motivated, and left feeling helpless.
Sunshine Deprivation ( Vitamin D deficiency )
Being stuck indoors for prolonged periods of time obviously restricts people’s exposure to natural sunlight. A lack of sunlight exposure for long periods can have detrimental effects on our system. Lockdown is a culprit for vitamin d deficiency and people do not even realize it. Symptoms to watch out for are tiredness or fatigue, muscle pain, hair loss, low moods, bone ache, backache and lowered immunity causing frequent illness or infections.
Reduced Quality of Diet
The lockdown has inevitably caused the takeaway and delivery industry to surge. A myriad of food delivery advertising campaigns are currently sweeping our screens. Restaurants and fast-food joints that once never delivered have teamed up with companies such as Uber eats and Just eat to offer their culinary services straight to your front door. Whilst this is a true convenience it doesn’t come without consequence.
People are without a doubt less financially well off these days and it’s very easy to just order in and eat low-quality food, this also begins to become a habit causing fewer people to cook their own meals using fresher healthier ingredients. Another factor is that ordering food to your door further strengthens reasons to stay in, so when the lockdown is eventually over more and more folks would have become accustomed to having their food delivered instead of going out with friends to a restaurant.
Reduced Activity and Exercise
Believe me, closing down gyms and sports centers is not in any way beneficial to human health, and the impact it’s having on the average person’s body and mind is far worse than you think. Think about it for a moment, how kids no longer attend after-school football or karate classes for example. How all those people who had a fitness regime in place at their local gym or class are now at home only barely attempting to replicate what they were once motivated to do.
Diminished energy levels and spirits causing people to become couch potatoes only barely accomplishing the odd stretch. Even people who didn’t previously attend any class or gym now find themselves walking and moving less being in a restricted area. The elderly who perhaps took a stroll to the park or to a local shop have been impacted even more so, as this could probably be their only physical activity.
So What Can You Do to Beat Lockdown?
Strange uncertain times never seen before are upon us bringing with them uneasy feelings of despair and frustration, but it doesn’t have to be like this and it is all up to the individual to dig deep to find their ability to adapt and conquer this virtual prison we have been thrown into. In the next part of this article, I will explain some logical and solid ways to survive and bulletproof you and your loved ones. In addition, helping bring on an impervious mindset for a healthier and more meaningful lifestyle.
Conditioning and Awareness
To begin you must start by not feeling sorry for yourself, cut out the self-pity completely. No matter what your situation you as an individual are more powerful than you realize. Wake each morning with thankfulness and optimism, take in deep breaths and hone in on your inner voice telling yourself “I will not be defeated, no one can defeat me” always remembering that we are all in this together making your problems no bigger or smaller than anyone else’s.
Have at least one constructive goal in your day whether it’s to improve your home in some way, to repair something that you have been putting off for ages, or even just to prepare a meal for the evening. Whatever it is just do it! Always take moments in your day to sit or lay somewhere and close your eyes, this only needs to be for 2 to 5 minutes where you do nothing except relax and meditate only ever thinking about your current moment, not the past, not the future, just that present moment.
Exercise and Stretching
A lot of people find it difficult to exercise but it need not be anything too strenuous and can be for only 10-20 minutes a day. Exercise will help you with sharper memory and thinking together with providing better oxygen and blood flow to your body. Endorphins from exercise will help relieve stress, pain and make you feel better overall. Concentration will increase making you feel mentally more sharp and ready to tackle anything. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells together with lowering symptoms of depression and anxiety.
I understand that exercise or stretching can be a chore for many, especially for the elderly or overweight. Nevertheless, you can and must do something. Simply walking up and down the stairs 5 times, or walking on the spot for 5 minutes can be enough for some. Motivation is the biggest thing that prevents people from stretching or exercising, but pushing yourself and saying “I must” is essential and you will undoubtedly thank yourself for it.
Eating a proper diet is paramount, not only for your body but also for the mind. It’s just all too easy to pick up the phone and order random meals such as Chinese or fried chicken. Although these are fine now and then, overconsuming these kinds of foods cause a negative effect on mental health, making those who consume it regularly feel depressed, as documented here by the NHS.
Vegetarian or vegan diets are the best diets, but not everyone is ready to adopt these kinds of eating styles, however, you can incorporate fresh whole foods into your home-cooked meals. Consuming more leafy greens, nuts, grains and fruits could boost your overall mood and outlook on life. Certain superfoods such as coconut oil, turmeric, ginger, honey and kale are especially effective. Even if you cannot find ways to incorporate these in meals try to eat them in some other way like making this immune-boosting tincture or drinking a golden milk latte each night for great health gains. Just by simply adding a few CBD oil 10% drops to your favorite drinks or snacks would be highly beneficial to the mind and body, a quick and easy way to boost health.
Fast food delivery convenience and lockdown are a match made in heaven that all too many people are adopting. Yes it’s quick and there is no washing up, but ultimately eating flavor-laced processed takeaways does more harm than good, both to your body and your mind.
If you have shivers, a cough, or other symptoms of cold please do not run to the doctor, this could trigger procedures that could make life a misery and isolate you even more. Instead, step up your diet to include immune-boosting food together with vitamin C supplements and others.
“Even in this high-tech age, the low-tech plant continues to be the key to nutrition and health.” ~Jack Weatherford
Ease off the Tech
The majority of people both young and old are somewhat addicted to daily screen time from the numerous digital devices that surround them. Consuming so much content from our digital screens that it’s easy to forget the negative side effects. Research is constantly showing that excess screen time can impair brain development or even lead to long-term illnesses like diabetes, it’s time to stop ignoring the risks of overdosing on our screens. Ask yourself this; Can you go for one whole day without looking at a screen of some sort? Obviously not, and in lockdown conditions, screen usage has increased by a whopping 37%. It’s not all harmless fun like it used to be, it’s getting to be more like an epidemic with increased studies showing us worrying symptoms like this:
- Physical strain to the eyes and body.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Increased risk of obesity.
- Increased risk of chronic health conditions.
- Dramatically lowered cognitive ability.
- Impaired socializing skills.
- Warped emotional judgment.
- Slower learning in young children.
Connect with Nature
Spending time in nature is vital for mental and physical well being, in the charade to contain COVID-19 millions of people are now restricted to their homes. Nature and people are not separate entities, we are part of nature. Being locked down and restricted goes against human nature so it’s more important than ever to connect with nature. How do we do this under lockdown I hear you ask, here are a few ways to cope when the great outdoors is off-limits.
Take a Stroll if You Can
Walking in and amongst green spaces can reduce stress and boost happiness. If exercising outside is still doable in your area, take advantage of this by doing some mild stretching in a green place allowing the sunshine to beam down on you, making sure to find your own secluded space. Under a tree would be ideal and walking barefoot on the grass would ground you to mother earth, feel the earth beneath your feet, just by doing this has immense health benefits including an improved nervous system, improved sleep and even helps to reduce pain and inflammation.
Become Green Fingered
If you have access to a garden or even a small grow space start growing plants. Use your time to plant some herbs, veggies, or even bright flowers. Various blossoming plants like sage and lavender attract pollinating creatures like bees and butterflies, in addition, a bird feeder would also see an increase in wildlife. Even if you don’t have a garden or outdoor area, you can still grow plants indoors, nurture them and make your living space into a green paradise. Have some fresh-smelling herbs like rosemary in your bathroom as you shower, this can be highly invigorating by stimulating the nasal passage and boosting mood.
Again if this is possible for you to try to enjoy as many meals as possible outside, imagine enjoying an evening meal outside whilst watching the sunset. Or simply just walking barefoot in your garden whilst drinking your tea or coffee.
Open up your windows, blinds, curtains, allowing the natural breeze and sunlight to enter your home, this natural flow will enhance the natural ambiance in your living area creating a more relaxed environment. Even if you do this for a small amount of time each day it can make a difference.
Whether it is warm or cold you can go outside in the evening and gaze up at the stars and moon. A truly humbling activity that has long been forgotten. It encourages inspiration, imagination, creativity and helps control stress. Using a telescope can increase the stargazing experience further and develop into an exciting hobby.
Love is King
In these times, more than ever having love in the home is vital. However much you were connected with your partner and children before should intensify now more than ever. Cuddle and praise your partner and children, tell them you love them, create bonds like never before. Nobody knows what fears they have deep inside them, your love and reassurance will strengthen them like nothing else can. However grim the world may seem outside, a home fortified with love and happiness cannot be defeated. In my personal opinion, in society today everything is fake, the only one true thing is real love. Take a moment to think about that and you will conclude that love indeed conquers all.
We are in a country and in a world that is increasingly becoming more and more controlled. Freedoms that we once enjoyed are slowly but surely diminishing. Many follow mainstream news that has no benefit apart from instilling worry and fear, even though nothing can change outcomes. It is important not to focus on what is happening and concentrate on yourself and loved one’s health and well-being. Getting your mind right and giving energy to everyone around you is imperative to surviving this and other lockdowns unscathed. If you have family elders who are alone do everything in your power to keep regular contact and try to do as much of these things for them also.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and although inevitably things will never be as they once were we must learn to adapt to our situation and stick together as a human race. Helping each other with acts of kindness and not violence. Violence is never the answer. The power of a united people across the world can send ripples that can shatter any tyranny or draconian agenda.
Peace, love, and power to the people.
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