The Hidden Health Risks Under COVID-19 Lockdown

by Sarah Ruhlman

COVID-19 has presented challenges unlike anything the modern world has ever seen. For many younger generations, who have never experienced invasive war-time regulations or witnessed significant disruptions to day-to-day-life, there is nothing to compare it to. While some countries like New Zealand cautiously move forward, relaxing their lockdowns with confidence, other nations remain apprehensive.

Nonetheless, we’re starting to hear the rumblings of a life after COVID-19 as lockdown measures start to be tentatively dialed back and the gears of commerce start to slowly grind back into action. And while this is a time for optimism, it’s also a time of reflection. We are by no means out of the woods yet. In many places, lockdown will likely continue for months or at the very least weeks.

It’s up to us to take active steps to improve our health while under lockdown. This goes way beyond simply keeping the Coronavirus at bay. It means addressing the hidden health risks that are presented to us under lockdown.

Poor eating and drinking habits are hidden health risks under lockdown

Poor eating & drinking habits

Jokes already abound across the Internet referring to the “Quarantine 15.” That is, the significant weight gain people may experience while stuck at home for a long period of time. While clever-sounding, this is, in fact, no laughing matter. Long-term changes to our normal exercise and eating routines pose a significant hidden health risk under lockdown. Without our typical schedules or even food sources, many of us are reaching for quick and easy snacks and food at all hours of the day, whether out of boredom or stress.

Baking bread and sweets (#quarantinebaking) has also emerged as a favorite pastime in quarantine. So much so that finding a bag of flour at the store has become incredibly difficult in some places. But what is all that bread going? Additionally, alcohol sales are on the rise in many communities across the nation. While we all cope with stress in our own way, we must also be incredibly conscious of the long-term negative health impacts of poor habits developed during this time.

Road traffic accidents

This may seem odd given that so many people are under lockdown and working from home. Allow me to explain. The overall number of traffic incidents has indeed gone down. However, the rate at which car crashes occur is actually on the rise in many cities. Why?

We need to consider the fact that some drivers have learned all the wrong lessons while enjoying quieter roads. Some motorists may be driving faster and less responsibly due to the lack of traffic, putting others at risk. As a result, many people are currently looking for wrongful death legal help for beloved family members involved in road accidents.

Now, more than ever, we need to be safe and aware on the roads, both as drivers and pedestrians. By all means, get your daily dose of outdoor exercise and make your essential trips. Just be extra careful on the roads. 

Depression

Another hidden health risk emerging under lockdown is widespread outbreaks of anxiety and depression caused by social isolation and the lack of certainty and stability. It’s vital that you spend some quality time outdoors in nature, set aside quality time with your spouse and family, and make time for your friends over the phone or via video chat. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Try to maintain as much of a routine as possible.

Tools & Resources:

  • These steps can help to lend you a sense of stability and structure under lockdown that can keep depression at bay.
  • If you have recently lost your job due to COVID-19, the meditation app Headspace is offering its tools and resources for free.
  • The CDC has recently released a public service announcement on coping with stress and anxiety during this time. Learn more here.
  • Some employers, such as Starbucks, offer their employees free mental health services through Lyra. Check with your employer, or visit Lyra’s website for resources on coping with Coronavirus-related stress at work.
Public Service Announcement on mental health during COVID-19 from the CDC
PSA on mental health from the CDC

Cabin fever and relationships

After months in quarantine, it’s perfectly natural for cabin fever to set in and for you to lose your patience with your spouse and kids. No matter how much you love them, most human beings simply cannot handle spending all day, every day together. Make sure you have a safe space you can use whenever you need to be alone. Likewise, be understanding of friends, family members, and even coworkers who tell you they need some space.

Vitamin D deficiency

Finally, if you’re unable to get your daily dose of outdoor exercise every day, make sure that you and your family get a daily vitamin D supplement. Without vitamin D from sunlight our bones can lose their density, and young children, in particular, can become susceptible to rickets. 

As important as it is to stay vigilant in keeping the virus itself out of your home, don’t let your family fall victim to the less obvious health risks while under lockdown. 

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