How has Covid affected the overall health of the nation?

Covid has affected our faith in many ways. How can we fight back against the broader effects of the virus?

Thousands of people have tragically lost their lives to Covid since the virus struck in 2020, but what other health conditions have been exacerbated by this disease? And how, as Christians, can we protect ourselves and others from these ‘hidden’ health issues?

Weight gain

Some joked about weight gain during the first lockdown, but eating more and exercising less has pushed many people into unhealthy BMI ratios. This can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and stroke, but it can also affect mental health and self-confidence levels. Some are struggling to find the motivation to eat healthily, instead relying on takeaways and snacks to keep themselves going, while others are in a cycle of self-loathing and comfort eating.

Addiction

Many of those struggling with addiction have had more opportunity to feed their habits with reduced support for those who are trying to break them. With less to do beyond work and home life, a high proportion are believed to be drinking more alcohol, taking drugs more regularly, watching more pornography, gambling more frequently and so on. Again, addiction can contribute to a broad range of physical health issues, such as liver damage in the case of alcohol addiction, as well as depression, self-harm and even suicide in some cases.

Existing health problems

A considerable number of people are suffering with health conditions that are not currently being treated as hospitals are prioritising Covid care. This ranges from minor ailments that people are attempting to treat at home to major surgeries that some patients are simply being told to hang on for. As well as leaving many in discomfort or pain, this has caused some to fear for their lives. Others have experienced feelings of hopelessness, isolation and overwhelm.

Mental health problems

Many of those who were already struggling with their mental health before Covid are receiving less face-to-face treatment and feel more cut off from the world due to self-distancing, closures of public places and lockdown measures. Young people and men are believed to be particularly vulnerable, but anyone can suffer from poor mental health, and there are indications that suicide rates have increased in the last year. Many have lost loved ones due to the virus, while others have experienced higher levels of abuse since being confined to their homes.

How can we help?

Your situation may seem hopeless, as though there is no end in sight, but there are steps you can take to help yourself and others:

  • Take care of yourself physically. It’s important to make sure you are eating well, staying hydrated, keeping clean, sleeping enough, getting fresh air and exercise, and doing all you can to stay fit and well. Even if you’re not working, or life is a little different at the moment, try to stick to a healthy routine.
  • Taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally. It’s easy to feel disconnected and alone, even if you’re on social media. Make time to speak to people on the phone or by video link. If rules allow, take socially distanced walks with loved ones. Do things you enjoy, like cooking or painting or playing an instrument. Write a journal or learn a new skill. If you’re struggling with addiction or experiencing abuse, talk to someone about it – preferably a trained professional.
  • Taking care of yourself spiritually. With many churches closed, it’s easy to feel cut off from your church community. Virtual church is helpful, but for many it just isn’t the same. Perhaps you’ve even started questioning your faith. Don’t allow Covid to rob you of your relationship with God. Prioritise reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. Ask God for help with any health issues you may be experiencing, and confide in your church leaders or friends if you need additional support.

Isaiah 40:31 says: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”