From mandated government stay-at-home orders to gut wrenching stories on the news, the coronavirus has caused more than just physical harm to our world. Yes, the spreading of this unknown virus has caused deadly and horrible stories, but it has also caused many feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other feelings that can be harmful to our mental health. In this blog post, we are going to be going over how the outbreak of the virus has affected our mental health and how you can cope. Keep reading to learn more!
Starting off, we want to acknowledge that this outbreak can cause feelings of turmoil — no matter how old you are or what your current situation is — regarding the virus. From facing the unknown about children going back to schools this fall to the uncertainty of returning to work, this can make you feel stressed not only about yourself, but also about the people around you and those whom you love. It’s also important to acknowledge that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you personally react depends on a multitude of factors such as your environment, your upbringing, the people you surround yourself with and the community you are in. All of us are currently being affected by the virus, some more than others, but we’re all going through this and the important thing to note is that we will get through it together!
Due to the changes going on, there are certain demographics of people who may be more susceptible than others. Older adults with chronic illnesses are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 which could give them uneasy feelings. Children and teens who have had their daily lives disrupted by school cancellations will also show signs of stress. Working adults in various essential job fields like healthcare workers, first responders, and other areas of business are probably not going to be themselves due to the high amount of stress they are facing every single day. Not to mention the copious amounts of changes that are happening daily. No matter how well you think you respond to change, quick change can have more stressful effects on people. Humans are resilient but it does take us some time to adapt. People who have had ongoing mental health issues may be feeling even more isolated than normal, especially with social distancing orders, causing extreme spikes of anxiety and depression. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, we want you to know that it is completely normal to be feeling this way during the pandemic that we’re facing. How you cope with these feelings is what will make the biggest difference.
According to the CDC, stress during any infectious disease outbreak can include any of the following:
- Fear and worry about your own health/the health of your loved ones.
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Increased substance use (alcohol, tobacco, other drugs).
Let’s learn more about how you can help cope with these feelings or negative thoughts that you’re experiencing.
What can I do to cope with these feelings and thoughts?
Be Mindful of Your Social Media and News Outlets
While it’s important to keep yourself updated and educated about what is going on around you, hearing constant news stories about the stress of the situation can take a toll on your mental well-being. Instead of leaving the TV on with the news while you cook dinner, listen to it once and then turn it off. The same thing goes for your social media outlets. Whether you’re reading, viewing, or hearing these stores, it can cause you more anxiety, especially if you’re already stressed. You may not even know that you’re feeling stressed, even if you’re haphazardly scrolling on your phone, the presence of these events can still trigger stress. Stay up-to-date, but don’t flood or overwhelm yourself with information. Turn it off and take a break from it all. If you need to unfollow or mute specific people you follow, do it. There is no shame in prioritizing your own needs from time to time, especially when it comes to your mental well-being.
Exercise and Eat Well
Staying inside the house all day, due to fear or anxiety, can cause us to live sedentary lives, especially if you live in an apartment, condo, or more compact living area. Remember to get up and move every so often, even if it’s just a walk around the house, to the mailbox, or even a quick step outside, get your body moving. Exercise can also help alleviate feelings of stress. When we exercise, our brain produces endorphins which help elevate our mood, helping to combat those negative thoughts and feelings. Even spending a few minutes out in the sun can help calm you. Eating healthy and well-balanced meals can also help give your body the proper nutrients that it needs, helping you feel better. It’s perfectly fine to indulge in your favorite comfort foods but most times, they don’t have the amount of nutrients your body needs. Avoid alcohol and other drugs, keep your body and mind free of any outside substances that may alter your state of mind. While many people look to these substances to help them feel a release of sadness or other feelings, alcohol and other substances are considered to be depressants.
Stay in Touch With Those You Love
Human connection is one of the most important aspects that we need to function and thrive. While some people may consider themselves more introverted and like their own space, no matter how extroverted or introverted you are, you need human connection. This connection can be difficult to come by at the current moment, but it’s not impossible. While we understand that it’s not ideal, keep that connection going by reaching out to friends and family. A quick phone call or video chat can go a long way for both parties involved. It’s also important that you reach out and accept help if you need it. Due to various closures, this virus outbreak has caused many people financial stress. If you need help there are so many organizations, churches, and even neighbors and friends that are willing to help. If you’re struggling with your mental health, reach out to a provider. Many healthcare offices and therapists are doing tele-visits and video sessions so that you’re still getting the treatment and care you need, while still adhering to the social distancing and lock down policies.
Accept and Understand Your Feelings
It can be easy to get caught up in the midst of the virus and all the various media coverage. Take a step back and try to acknowledge any feelings that you’ve noticed have set in. Are these feelings temporary and unlike you? Or are they feelings that you typically experience but are heightened? Whatever they are, take the time to accept it and understand it. Once you accept these feelings, you’ll be able to understand how you can or need to be helped. It is perfectly normal to feel different right now, after all our world is completely different so some feelings towards this are normal. This time can be very scary for all of us. There is only so much you can do as a regular person by yourself, take it one day at a time. Do what you can do to protect yourself from the spread of the virus. But also when you accept these feelings, you may feel relief and understand what needs to be done.
Seeking mental help through therapy may feel like another thing to add to your already busy schedule, but it can be extremely helpful. At New Transitions we offer various forms of therapy and mental health services to help you cope with any negative thoughts of feelings. Our offices are opening with different protocols than usual, so if you have any questions regarding what we are doing to keep our staff and clients safe, please reach out to us. We’re here for you and want to help you feel your best, even if we are in the middle of a pandemic.
If you are or think you’re having symptoms of coronavirus, please call our office before coming in. We can set up televisit appointments. We do urge you, if you’re feeling sick with any of the symptoms, to avoid going to public offices like emergency rooms or urgent care clinics. Connect with us today and get on the road to better mental health.