Mental Health vs. Physical health: Is ignoring government guidelines sometimes the right thing to do?

Caring for our mental health has always been essential, but now maybe even more than ever! Amid a global pandemic and during a second lockdown, it is easy to forget about taking care of ourselves and prioritising our mental well-being.

Self-care comes in many forms, but can be difficult with rigorous government guidelines, and as University students it can be even more difficult. Not only do university students often live alone, having deadlines, assessments and minimal socialization can all take a toll on our mental health. This poses the question: do government rules take university students into account? Is ignoring the rules a form of self-care?

It is important to note that the rules are put in place to reduce the spread of the virus and keep people safe, this article is in no way political or advice to ignore government guidelines – because it wouldn’t be right to do so – but can we possibly bend the rules?

Mental health has long been regarded as not as important as physical health, and the movement to end the stigma is still ongoing. But the debate of mental vs. physical health continues as only our physical health is being taken into account by the new lockdown rules. COVID has undoubtedly widened the gap between caring for mental and physical health, prioritizing physical health. Lockdown has proven to be the most mentally challenging activity, not only enhancing present mental health issues but creating new ones. The lack of social interaction can cause new types of social issues to arise, it is even going to be difficult to adapt to a ‘normal’ routine once this is over.

Image credit: Instagram (@iambenwest)

Establishing a support bubble is essential, especially for people who live alone, and the guidelines specifically state that you are exempt from lockdown restrictions if you are “avoiding or escaping risk of injury or harm” so if you feel unsafe or are struggling, you have a legal right to do what makes you feel safe. This could include visiting or hosting support bubble members. It is also essential to note that while doing so, staying safe by wearing masks and abiding by social distancing rules is important. This way, you can ensure you are taking part in keeping everyone else safe but still managing to take care of yourself!

In these unprecedented times, it is getting harder to establish a normal human routine and easier to compromise our mental health, so if bending the rules (while keeping safe) means taking care of ourselves then I believe it can be done responsibly!

Header image credit: TeenVogue