The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the world go into various states of lockdown to reduce the spread of the virulent disease.
But, the long-term restrictions, border closures, and continued stay-at-home orders have seen everyone become prone to lockdown fatigue, as well as mental and physical exhaustion.
According to a survey the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted in June this year, 20 percent of Australians are experiencing psychological distress at the moment, with respondents reporting feelings of nervousness, fatigue, hopelessness, and depression.
“We are in an abnormal situation where these symptoms will commonly arise,” says Dr Andrew Thompson, a registered doctor at InstantScripts.
“If these problems aren’t addressed, however, it can lead to the emergence of more sinister issues, which can be more difficult to manage or resolve.”
To help identify these problems and treat them before they worsen, Dr Thompson has shared the four most common physical and mental symptoms currently experienced by people in lockdown.
No matter what additional stress you’re dealing with during lockdown – whether that’s working, studying, homeschooling or having lost your job – headaches are a common side effect.
“This can be the result of additional stress and anxiety, as well as neck or shoulder pain and eye strain from increased screen use and a lack of an ergonomic remote working set up,” Dr Thompson explains.
Luckily these aches and pains can be dealt with by adjusting your daily routine just a little. Dr Thompson recommends taking breaks away from screens, taking time to be outside, and drinking enough water during the day.
“Mindfulness and meditation techniques can also help alleviate stress. There are plenty of free online resources and videos to help you practice these techniques,” he adds.
2. Poor sleep and feeling tired all the time
Not getting to sleep? Or sleeping in later than usual?
The switch to staying home all the time can lead us to throwing our routines out the window, but Dr Thompson stresses that keeping a routine is just important now as it was before the pandemic.
“It is important to maintain regular sleep and wake times and aim for eight hours of quality sleep each night,” Dr Thompson says.
“Establishing a relaxing routine before bed is also important to help induce sleep and ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and energised.”
He suggests limiting screen time before bed and even replacing it with a good book or meditation.
3. Anxious and mentally strained
On top of feeling stressed and an out-of-balance sleep routine, you might be feeling anxious and mentally exhausted.
If you suddenly develop symptoms of a mental health disorder you don’t already have, you might be experiencing ‘adjustment disorder’.
The best way of combating these feelings is finding someone to talk to, such as a doctor, psychologist, or another medical professional who can point you in the right direction.
4. Mood swings
Feeling moody, angry, or frustrated?
Another surprisingly common symptom during lockdown is feeling frustrated and angry and this is natural, normal, and healthy.
The trouble can come if this anger is bottled up, so talking out your feelings with someone and doing something productive to channel your frustrations are two ways of letting them out.
Staying in touch with friends and family, switching off the news for a bit, and enjoying the outdoors can help too.
5. Feeling unmotivated
Finding it hard to stay motivated with exercising or any other task is another common experience for those in lockdown.
Unless it starts affecting your physical and mental health, taking things more easily shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
If you are worried though, Dr Thompson recommends maintaining a regular routine and finding some way to stay active – even if it’s just a short walk each day.
“It is easy to become sedentary when we’re in lockdown but the positive benefits of physical activity on our overall health, and especially our mental health, can’t be overstated,” he says.
This article originally appeared on Over60.