By Rachel Garvey
When we turn on the news channel, what do we see? When we flick through the feeds on social media platforms, what do we read? When we turn on the radio, what do we hear? These are three different questions, but they all share the same answer. In times like these, it is not just important to look after ourselves physically, but mentally too. A pandemic such as this one not only takes a toll on how we live our lives but to how this new change in lifestyle and fear of the known and unknown will make us feel on the inside. As someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, I can empathise with what a lot of the world’s population is going through. Many people choose not to speak of it for fear of having it come to life, or they think that these may just be thoughts that are better kept secret. These thoughts shouldn’t be kept on the inside, they should be let out so others can help ease the burden of them.
However, if people are too anxious to say them out loud, then allow me to help with that; it feels like life is crumbling underneath us and we feel powerless to stop this breakdown, isn’t that it? And it’s the fact that we have been reduced to lockdown with all our favourite pubs, clubs, clothes shops and cafes closed until further notice. As well as these, there’s the worry of wondering how long this lockdown will go on if the number of confirmed cases rises dramatically? That is a worry in itself; if cases continue to rise, which they are, what is the next step the Government will take?
The new guidelines of “social distancing” are also a constant worry that plays on our minds and it has made a massive impact on people’s mental health. I am one of the many retail workers that work in the front line and coming into contact with a huge number of customers on the shop floor is honestly driving my anxiety through the roof. As much as I try to keep my distance from customers, they still take one step forward while you take two steps back. It seems that no matter how many lines of tape we put down or how many times we tell customers to distance themselves from you, it goes in one ear and out the other! The whole point of this new guideline was to reduce the risk of people contracting the virus, yet I’m seeing people come in with their entire families and group of friends. Are people not understanding that they are putting others at risk? Maybe they will finally learn a lesson when it’s their family member who gets sick. Saying that does seem a little harsh, but it’s a global pandemic and we need to listen to these guidelines, because they are there to protect us and if we keep pushing against those guidelines, then we are in major trouble.
As a retail worker, I am constantly in fear of the customers I come into contact with every day. The what-ifs are constantly swimming around in my head. I’m unable to see my best friends and go for crepes or trips to the cinema like we normally do when we all have free time, I can’t enjoy the nights out after work with my work friends anymore because of closed venues and worst of all, I can’t even see my own family for fear of exposing them to the virus. The thought of my parents or younger siblings contracting the virus is guilt that would haunt me forever, especially with my younger sister dealing with asthma problems. For those of you out there with these fears, don’t be afraid to speak to someone, even if it has to be through online. We may not be able to see the people we love or do the things we normally do, but if we abide by the rules, then we will make the life we once knew one step closer to us and that’s something we won’t be distancing ourselves from.