The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your mental health
After a year of hunkering down, masking up, Zooming in, and going without everything from social contact to financial security, it’s no wonder that so many people are overwhelmed and under stress. There have been numerous studies and stories completed on COVID-19’s effects on the body, but far fewer mentions on how the pandemic affects your mind. According to recent research on Americans’ mental health, COVID-19 pandemic life has far too many people feeling negative impacts. One of those people could be you or someone you love. The connection between COVID-19 and mental health is impossible to ignore. Discover the many challenges that could affect your mental health during pandemic times and the COVID-19 mental health resources to help you stay strong, safe, and healthy.
Worried sick about getting sick
Between buying sanitizer in bulk and incessantly washing your hands, you may be living in constant fear that you or your loved ones will get sick. But by obsessing over maintaining your physical health during COVID-19, mental health may be more of a priority than you think. It’s ironic how a focus on staying healthy can lead to all sorts of unhealthy behaviors, from hoarding groceries to stockpiling essentials. And, if you’re one of the many that has experienced the sudden loss of friends or family, the grief will only worsen the fear you feel.
If you’ve found yourself anxious or depressed over the past year, you’re not alone. In a recent study on the effects of COVID-19, mental health was one of the greatest concerns, with 42% of Americans experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression at some time during the pandemic. The symptoms of stress and suffering include problems with sleeping and difficulty eating, as well as worsening chronic conditions. Most troubling of all may be that a larger share of young adults are struggling with mental health during pandemic life, with many sufferers reporting anxiety or depressive disorders.
It appears that too much social distance may be leading to social distress. Sadly, by avoiding friends and family as a precaution during COVID-19, mental health problems are somewhat unavoidable. The lack of companionship and loss of personal support has led to feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Even people staying at home surrounded by family found that the lack of social interaction triggered sadness and anxiety. And, spending all day, every day with only those in your family can cause stress and frustration—yet leave you without a friendly ear to listen.
Financial drains and strains
If you’re among the millions of people that aren’t able to go to work or you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic, you’re probably worried about your finances. But, fixating on your financial health is only harming your mental health. COVID-19 pandemic life has led to financial fears around paying the bills, buying more groceries, finding another job, or keeping the one you have. During this time of financial uncertainty, the link between COVID-19 and mental health is one that you can’t afford to overlook.
Coping with COVID-19
Understanding the strong relationship between COVID-19 and mental health, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings during this stressful time and know that you’re not alone. It’s natural and normal to feel overwhelmed during a pandemic. To help you start to address any mental health issues you may be experiencing, no matter how big or small, consider learning the following strategies to ease your mind and your nerves.
- Don’t sweat it, work up a sweat! – Exercise is good for your body, and it’s also great for your mind. Working out can work wonders to relieve stress and anxiety. Simply go for a walk, practice yoga, or dance around the house to start feeling the calming effects of moving your body.
- Give meditation some thought – When the world is stressing you out, try to achieve a bit of inner peace by practicing meditation. Research shows that mind-body therapies like meditation can help soothe stress and anxiety. That’s reason enough to open your mind to meditation.
- Stay calm, cool, and connected – When you can’t get together in person, reaching out to friends and family through the telephone or technology can go a long way toward easing your stress. The support of people you trust can provide a lasting sense of comfort during uncomfortable times.
- Seek help to find hope – If you’re feeling stressed or depressed, you need to know that help is out there. Speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor to learn more about additional COVID-19 mental health resources to find the support you need.
During the pandemic, it’s vital to keep the mental effects of stress in mind and most importantly, don’t feel ashamed or afraid of how you may be feeling right now. These are unprecedented times and everyone reacts differently.