Speaking on the latest episode of the University of Sheffield’s podcast Coronavirus, Examined, Dr Jilly Gibson-Miller explained why feeling depressed or anxious is a completely normal response to the current situation.
We are living through a situation most of us will have never experienced before. Whether you’re a key worker on the frontline of the crisis or a single mum struggling to juggle home schooling responsibilities while you work from home, we’re all dealing with our own unique strains and pressures right now.
It’s no surprise then that more of us are dealing with increased levels of anxiety as a result of the pandemic. Last month, figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealed that nearly half (48%) of British people are dealing with “high levels” anxiety as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
This increase in the number of people dealing with mental health issues was the subject of a new podcast from the University of Sheffield’s podcast Coronavirus, Examined which looks at how the pandemic is changing our world and the way we live in it.
The episode, titled How Coronavirus Is Impacting Our Mental Health, featured an interview with academics Professor Richard Bentall and Dr Jilly Gibson-Miller, whose research has been looking at how the public respond to the pandemic.
“You could think of an epidemic as having two components really,” explains Bentall. “One is the actual epidemic itself, the health effects of a virus passing through the population, sometimes with tragic consequences.
“But there’s also all the knock-on effects – the economic effects, the social effects and the psychological effects. And these themselves carry a terrible burden. And that burden needs to be understood if we’re going to be able to help people. Also if we’re going to recover as a nation.”
Going on to acknowledge that this is a particularly tough time for those in vulnerable groups, people with pre-existing mental health conditions and those dealing with financial instability, Bentall added that there has been a “slight uptick” in levels of depression and anxiety across the UK population since the beginning of the pandemic.
However, despite all of the negative effects the coronavirus pandemic is having on our mental health, Gibson-Miller stressed one vital point: everything we’re feeling is completely normal.
“These sort of psychological responses to this situation are completely normal for humans – it’s probably quite a functional response in some ways,” she explains. “Just to make it clear so that nobody thinks the whole world is going to be ill – it’s perfectly normal to have these responses.”
It’s a point that NHS psychiatrist Max Pemberton previously stressed to Stylist: “A lot of the feelings we’re experiencing at the moment are normal, and it’s important to not medicalise feelings of distress.”
It’s important to remember that, however you’re feeling, chances are you’re not alone. As Gibson-Miller and Pemberton explain, these are completely normal responses to an extraordinary situation, and treating your feelings as something to feel guilty about or panic over isn’t necessary.
So next time you find yourself wondering why you’re feeling low, unmotivated or worried about the future, remind yourself that it’s 100% normal to feel that way.
Coping with anxiety
If you’re dealing with feelings of anxiety and worry during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to understand that this is a completely normal response to the current situation. However, if you’re looking for a way to alleviate some of those feelings, or seek professional advice, here’s three articles that might help.
- 4 tips for dealing with anxiety, from someone who lives with it
- Everything you need to know about seeking mental health support during the coronavirus pandemic
- How to keep your worries about coronavirus under control
If you’re an avid Stylist fan, you’ll know it’s not always possible to find an issue of our magazine. Often they’re gone before you head into work (they disappear fast!), or you live in a part of the UK where you can’t get your hands on a copy. Add to this the fact that millions of us are not commuting right now, and we wanted to ensure you don’t miss out on the magazine any longer.
Which is why we’re delighted to let you know that Stylist magazine is now available in a digital format, both for Apple and Android users, allowing you to download the full magazine directly to your smartphone or tablet, wherever you may be.
Pricing for our digital magazine starts at just 99p for a single issue, or £21.99 for a full year’s subscription –that’s less than 50p a week! Simply click on the link to activate your Stylist app download from either the Apple store or Google Play and enjoy!
Recommended by Lauren Geall
Second wave anxiety: “As new lockdown restrictions are introduced, I’m terrified of what comes next”
“The important lesson my dog taught me in lockdown”
Coronavirus anxiety: cognitive therapist says one word can help ease your feelings
“Why am I so tearful?” How to avoid emotional exhaustion during lockdown