How Covid-19 has affected our health

Focusing less on the future can make us healthier and happier in the now

Between the writing and the publishing of these words, it is impossible to know how the situation will have developed in regards to Covid-19 – both on Mallorca and around the world. Before any of this, most of us were used to enjoying a reality of relative stability, one in which we could make plans and look forward to the future. We felt safe in our sense of the predictability of things.

A lot has changed since then. We’ve had to manage our expectations, to put hopes and plans to one side, and embrace the unknown. And this, for many, has not been an easy adjustment. The psychological impact of the virus has affected people’s wellbeing in numerous and profound ways, not just through the fear of catching it, but through the uncertainty of what the future holds.

Palma-based psychologist Nicole Blay has seen the number of patients coming to her for help rise by almost a third during the crisis. “Over lockdown, many people experienced symptoms such as insomnia, higher anxiety levels, and stress,” she explains, and after lockdown was lifted many were then left with what Nicole describes as a “vacuum” – unsure of how to cope with life in the ‘new normal’.

While emphasising that each individual is different, she highlights useful strategies that we can all adopt to help safeguard our mental health. Firstly, keeping physically active can have huge benefits on our psychological wellbeing – ideally 45 minutes a day – as well as giving your immune system a boost. She also recommends meditation or mindfulness programmes to her clients, to help quieten the ‘noise’ and focus on the moment.

Nicole also suggests creating a small “oasis” at home with positive pictures, sounds and even aromas to help “protect ourselves from sense of negativity that we might feel is happening outside.” Allowing a constant stream of unsettling news into our homes can also be harmful to our mental states, and she recommends keeping its consumption to a minimum.

And her most important piece of advice? Living day to day and making the best we can of each one. “If this situation has taught us one thing, it’s that we need to stop trying control everything, especially the future.”

Photos by Sara Savage

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Palma Clinic