When it comes to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, it’s fair to say that we are living in unprecedented times. But far from merely suffering from the effects of COVID-19. There has also been a mental health pandemic which no ones discussing. It’s fair to say that around the world, COVID-19 is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health.
And it’s no surprise. With unemployment reaching record levels, and people uncertain about where their next paycheck is going to come from, money issues have been crushing. Add to this the isolation and aloneness of sheltering in place – away from friends and family. Without the usual distractions of a social life or sporting activities, is it any wonder that mental health issues are continuing to worsen.
If you factor the social unrest and issues of police brutality in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to name only two. For people of color, the mental health pandemic and the global pandemic are creating a perfect storm of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Suppose you’re already one of over 40 million Americans who suffers from mental health issues. It can feel like there is no way out during the coronavirus crisis.
We’ve compiled some ways that you can stop the global epidemic from being your mental health pandemic.
- Try meditation
One of the simplest and most popular tools for helping with cases of anxiety and depression involve meditation and mindfulness. By following along with breathing patterns and allowing your thoughts to focus on the breath and your body, you can experience some relief from constant anxiety. Popular apps such as the Calm app have made it easier than ever to find some simple relief.
- Give online therapy a go
While you may feel like it’s unrealistic to get a new therapist when it’s advisable to stay indoors, many mental health professionals have turned to online therapy options so you can get help when you need it most.
Talkspace is an app that allows you to contact a therapist in a variety of ways, and for people who worry about being seen to visit a therapist, enjoying a session in the safety of your own home can give you expert help and increase privacy.
- Come up with a crisis plan
Of course, the last thing anxiety needs is outside influences justifying why things are making you tense. If you’ve found that you can’t help but dwell on the worst-case scenarios, instead of fighting the fear, lean into it.
Consider what will happen if the worst does occur – from losing your job to being evicted. Having these plans in place can make you feel more ready and prepared should something happen.
This is also a proven way to derail the all-or-nothing process that anxiety tends to force us into. It might feel like a life or death situation, but if you lost your job, what would happen to you?
By doing the necessary research and getting the information together, you have the opportunity to ease your mind as there is no longer an unknown to fear.
- Communicate with your boss
Life has been disrupted for everybody, and so the nature of how we work and what we do is fundamentally altered. Therefore it’s crucial to check in with your boss and make sure that they understand how you’re doing. This can be everything from letting them know if you’re feeling stressed and overworked, to checking in with them on your company’s health and how they see the next few months happening. Remember again: the aim to help your mental health is to remove as much uncertainty as possible so that your anxieties can be lessened.
- Limit your social media and news exposure
With nothing to do outside, and nowhere to go to let off steam, it can be tempting to turn to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. However, while it might seem attractive to stay always in touch with everyone and everything happening, this is also a critical way that you can find yourself overwhelmed.
Whether it’s disagreements with your family or overdosing on 24/7 news, social media is one of the most harmful things for our mental health and so make sure you don’t fall into the trap of living through everything online.
- Perspective reminder
We’re not going to lie to you. Things are bad now, and they’re challenging for millions of people out there. But things can get better, and they will get better. Reminding yourself that this is a tragic moment we’re all living through is an essential part of being able to see past it.
Make sure you give yourself space to dream in, as well as making plans for the future. After all, we’re not going to be stuck at home forever, and it’s good to know that there are things that you can still plan for a little while in the future.
- Keep connected with the right people in your life
From Skype dates with your grandparents or parents to checking in with your friends via a remote sleepover. There are plenty of ways that we can check in with one another and still be actively involved in each other’s lives.
Try not to shut yourself off from your loved ones, but instead plan ways to watch movies together, or have cups of coffee like the good old days – make sure you’re responsible about your social distance.
- Take a deep breath
If at all possible, try to get outside and take a deep breath of air. Make sure that you’re avoiding crowded areas, but taking a walk around the park can be an excellent way to stop cabin fever from setting in. It can allow you the chance to breathe.
- Try some physical activity
Just like going outside, try to give yourself the chance to engage in some good old-fashioned exercise. Whether you’re streaming a yoga class into your living room or jogging around the local park, this can be a great way to boost your endorphin levels while helping things return briefly back to something familiar and more regular.
- Finish lingering tasks
When did you last spring clean your apartment? Or practice the piano? Whatever it is, with many of us not facing our usual commute times and getting to spend more time at home, why not make home the best place it can be for you?
Tidying your space, finishing the projects that you’ve had half-done for a while, and sprucing up the world you’re living in can help give you a boost of satisfaction. It can also give you a great way to feel as though you’re in charge of something and have managed something productive.
Above all else, remember that you’re not alone. If you feel like you’re stuck without someone to talk to, reach out to forums online or make a call to a support line so that you don’t experience the impact of a mental health pandemic on your own.