The pandemic – and especially the periods of lockdown – ushered in an entirely new way of life for many, with homeworking becoming standard and periods of covid-induced isolation a constant spectre. The negative impact of covid has turned out to be significantly more wide-ranging than anticipated; below are a few of the ways that the pandemic made daily living a struggle for much of the population.
Effects On Mental Health
The toll that the pandemic took on mental health can’t be underestimated: a study by the BBC earlier this year discovered that the number of adults suffering from symptoms of depression had almost doubled during this period and concluded that general mental health had declined across all age groups in the UK.
There are multiple reasons for this impact: firstly, many people experienced a significant rise in anxiety and, specifically, health anxiety, as concern grew about covid, and the death toll rose across the world. Uncertainty fed into this, and a general sense of no longer being sure of what the future looked like or when another lockdown could be instigated.
Another key detrimental effect was the isolation required by the periods of lockdown, or when a person or their family contracted the virus (or exhibited symptoms). Being alone for an extended length of time often gave rise to feelings of intense loneliness, which caused the worsening, or development of depressive symptoms.
The strain on relationships, and financial fears, too, added to the problems, and we explore these further below.
Impact On Relationships
The stresses and strains of the pandemic, including on household finances in the wake of, for example, a reduction of working hours and the need to undertake homeschooling, had a huge effect on relationships: the Office for National Statistics found that, during the first year of the pandemic, 44% of those surveyed reported that covid was having a negative impact on their relationship with their partner or spouse.
For many, counseling sessions were the answer, and the rise in the availability of online couple’s counseling provided a solution for those whose relationships were feeling the strain of the pandemic and the changing family dynamics in the home. Getting used to spending near-constant time together in the house while juggling the demands of, for example, working from home and childcare, caused significant pressure. Online couple’s counseling sessions offered a way to let off steam, talk openly, and receive advice on the problems being faced. The therapy often focuses on helping partners to find new ways to communicate and resolve conflict, looking at ways to strengthen the relationship, and discovering how to better connect with your other half.
The pandemic and covid lockdowns resulted in many people finding their working hours were cut; those that owned or worked for small front-facing or services businesses were particularly badly hit. Self-employed cleaners, for example, have been unable to work for large portions of the last two years, as have those working in a childcare capacity or the retail sector. Although government help has been available, this, frequently, did not match pre-pandemic earnings for most individuals.
Exacerbating the strain on household finances was the increased cost of living, with households generally reporting that everyday items had become more expensive. With utility bills on the rise, too, the period of the pandemic has had a huge impact on home finances: a report concluded that 700,000 people in the UK are now living in poverty as a direct result of the implications of covid.
Disruption To Other Health Services
As well as the ever-present threat of contracting covid itself and the potential consequences of this, other health services were scaled back during the pandemic to cope with the pressures of the additional people requiring hospitalization. Many people faced the prospect of their planned operations being rescheduled (often multiple times), while others decided against consulting their doctor regarding a medical problem – or, in some cases, failing to call an ambulance in an emergency – due to fears of further overwhelming the health system or of contracting covid in a medical setting.
Tragically, this resulted in a significant number of people losing their lives to heart attacks suffered at home, for example, or of late diagnoses for cancer and other diseases.
How To Guard Against The Effects Of The Pandemic
With things gradually improving but, as yet, no end in sight to the global battle against covid, it is important to recognize the many ways that the pandemic can affect our lives, and take steps to mitigate these.
For those self-isolating, it is vital to remain in contact with the outside world: making sure that you have a telephone or facetime call daily with a friend or relative can make a huge difference to feelings of loneliness and stress. Take up a new home-based hobby, make time to read a book, or regularly work out using an online class to boost your mood and prevent depression from creeping in.
If your finances have been affected by the pandemic, don’t put off seeking help, as financial stress can be hugely detrimental to your quality of life. Check online for free debt counseling services that can give you the advice you need – including actionable next steps – to start on the path to becoming debt-free.