There is no guideline for behavior during the Coronavirus pandemic. No instruction manual could have prepared us for this. The impact of COVID-19 will be devastating, not only on physical things, but also on our feelings and mental health. The full scale of damages this virus has made will probably be discussed for years to come.
According to the recent data from Healthline and YouGov, there is a significant rise of symptoms of depression and anxiety in the last couple of months. All of this is part of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and the global lockdown. Women, immune-compromised people and minorities are especially sensitive to moments like these. The number of people who have reported increase in their anxiety level has gone above historical norms. This is just worsened by the stay-at-home orders and advices of physical distancing.
The truth is, we all fear the unknown and the uncertainty. The time when the world is plagued by a deadly pandemic, every day it seems like something unplanned can happen and ruin our routine. This is just worsened by the inability to go outside and talk to our friends and family for relief. And with everyone around losing their loved ones, their jobs and their safety, how can we stay calm?
Signs of Mental Health Issues
There are no clear signs that other people can see to determine whether or not someone else has mental health problems. The only person – apart from a professional – that can determine whether or not you are in a good state of mind is you yourself. If you experience a change in your emotions, whether it is increased sadness, feeling of emptiness or hopelessness, struggling to do day-to-day tasks, these can mean that you are temporarily not feeling okay. It’s especially urgent if you notice concerning signs of depression such as thoughts of death or suicidal ideation that you go speak to a professional immediately. Most mental health offices will provide you with the ability to have a phone meeting, so you can stay safe while still taking care of yourself.
Some more disturbing symptoms include excessive worrying, feelings of being on the edge and insomnia. Even sleeping too much might mean you are experiencing issues facing the ‘real’ world.
Of course, everyone is worrying these days. Anxiety is a common result of the impact of COVID-19 lockdown. There is probably not a single person that didn’t get disturbed. So, how do you know when it’s time to go see a therapist?
When we find ourselves endangered, it’s normal to have a ‘fight or flight’ response. This can lead to sudden increase of before mentioned symptoms. It’s perfectly normal to have temporary emotional outbursts in times like these. However, if this becomes chronic, that’s when you have a problem. When anxiety has become part of your everyday life, it’s time to do something to help yourself.
Things to Do to Help Yourself
There are several ways to decrease the impact of COVID-19 on your mental health. You should start with accepting your feelings and realizing that everything you are experiencing mentally is normal, valid and understandable. You are not alone. After doing so, here are some more tips to help you feel better.
Talk to a Therapist
We have to write this as a first option as seeking professional help is the best thing you can do for your mental health. If you have trouble finding someone to talk to, you can always check websites such as the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator. They will help you find someone nearby. Most therapist have taken the online approach to their sessions, so if you already have a therapist you can ask them if they are willing to consult with you via video call. There are even several smartphone applications that can help you connect yourself with a mental health expert.
Come to Terms with Your Feelings
You must be patient with yourself. You’ve most likely never been through something like this. No one expects of you to know how to deal with these new emotions and how to act. In the end, there is no ‘the right way’ to act when something as big as this happens. One of the biggest features of the impact of COVID-19 is that all of us have found ourselves in the unknown.
Breathe in deep and face that everything is different and that it’s okay to be scared. It’s also okay if you feel annoyed with things that used to be everyday tasks. You can’t just go outside and buy groceries. Drinking coffee with your friends? Not so easy now. All these changes in our routine have impacted us all greatly.
Make a Routine
When you’re spending all day in your house, it’s easy to feel like you can just wake up whenever and stay in pajamas all day long eating junk food. The impact of COVID-19 has left a trace on our schedule. Truth is, this kind of behavior is damaging to our mental health. We must have a certain routine if we want to function.
Try waking up every day at the same time. If you work from home, make a precise working schedule. Try to eat lunch every day – and try to cook it yourself or at least to eat healthy. If you are able to, try to make a workout routine that you can complete from your home. If you are lucky enough to have a big balcony or a backyard, spend as much time outside on the sun as possible. Knowing exactly what you should do at every time of the day is helpful for people struggling with the anxiety.
For better or for worse, the days we are currently living in are everything but ‘normal’. No one of us was prepared for this scenario and no one could predict that the impact of COVID-19 would be so big and terrible. Milwaukee has never experienced a pandemic so severe that it endangered every aspect of our everyday lives. People are losing their jobs, their homes to foreclosures, their family members and their good mental health. It’s important that we make everyday steps to ensure that we get out of this in one piece.