Men in general have fewer social and emotional support systems and these generally involve the sort of social activities that are Covid-19 has currently curtailed, such as meeting with friends at the pub, playing sport, attending sporting events, etc.

The sense of isolation from this can be quite significant. Men overall weren’t on the phone to friends talking about their feelings prior to the virus, and in most cases they’re certainly not doing it now.

Often men have only their partners to turn to, who are understandably busy juggling work and homeschooling kids, or are trying to meet their own emotional needs. And we’re seeing this leading guys to internalise more, and present a strong front resulting in higher levels of stress, with many also reporting unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption.

Psychotherapist Noel McDermott comments:

One of the big roles for dads is that dad is often the breadwinner. That role is significantly threatened currently, and this economic uncertainty is a very big issue. It produces loss of identity and reactive depressive symptoms or reactive anxiety symptoms.”

Additionally, there is a sense of helplessness in the face of the enormity of the situation. Unhealthy coping strategies are emerging including excess drinking. We’ve also seen significant issues around relapse in addiction issues.

Drinking does not help

It’s unwise to be drinking heavily during this lockdown, and period of possible infection for coronavirus. Increased alcohol consumption is linked to physical health issues including significant reductions in immune functioning, emotional problems, relationships problems, financial problems and work problems.

These problems are in abundance right now, just from life circumstances, without inviting them in by drinking on top of the situation. One of the best things you could do for yourself, and your family, currently is to go sober, or reduce your drinking, until we are through this situation.

Not only will your health and wellbeing be significantly enhanced. You’ll be in a better mental state to deal with some of the harsh reality that Covid-19 brings with it. And, most importantly, your resilience will be better and you’ll be able to make the most of opportunities as they come up; like applying for a new job for instance.

Warning Signs

Many guys are rising to the challenge, but the longer this situation continues, the harder it is for some to manage. If you are reading this, and you’re concerned that the man in your life is struggling with life under lockdown, look for these classic warning signs:

  • sleep disturbances
  • changes in mood
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight
  • increase in the use of alcohol and issues around dysregulation (losing one’s temper more)
  • withdrawal is another sign of potential struggles.

Relationships Under Strain

A lot of relationships are under strain at the moment and due to very real fears of infection, financial insecurity, having to run a household as a school, a workplace, and a home at the same time, not having enough personal spaces, loss of social support, etc.

Many people are in survival mode, which can only be sustained for so long. In some ways the problems will surface more as we come out of lockdown and people let go a bit more.

It is after the crisis we often count the cost. Without a doubt many relationships will flounder during these times and without a doubt many will become stronger. It’s a time of these types of extremes and we are predicting many divorces as well as many babies as a result of this current situation.

Also, as some countries and regions go into second and third waves of lockdowns, many of these issues may compound. This will get very difficult for some families.

If you’re a Dad and you feel like you’re not coping check out our article on Relationships Aotearoa. And if you’re a partner and reading this and feel that you or your children could be at risk, check out our article on Shine.

Handy Checklist for Dads

  • Simplify…cut out complex task lists and make each day as simple as possible
  • Stay in the here and now…avoid thinking about the future. Yes, we must be practical and plan but as much as possible reduce your thinking to what you are experiencing in the moment and focus on how make the moment ok. Everything else will fall into place!
  • Mediate…learn and do it now it really does help
  • Stop, or reduce drinking
  • Exercise
  • Have good sleep hygiene, hydrate, eat well
  • Take naps
  • Practice gratitude
  • Show love to those around you
  • Practice self-care

Although this may seem like a litany of problems we can help ourselves and loved ones in this situation by keeping communication channels open and following the above advice.

For more expert advice on keeping you and your family well through these exceptional times, check out our Support groups section.

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Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education. He is the founder and CEO of three organisations, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental Health Works Ltd. Noel’s company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual. They have recently launched a range of online therapy resources in order to help clients access help without leaving home.

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