COVID-19 is an ongoing global pandemic that has caused severe impacts on people’s mental health as they social distance and quarantine to protect their communities.
We want you to know that there are resources and tools available to you to help you manage your mental health during this time and to get the social support that you need.
Everyone experiences stress, and not all stress is bad. In some cases, like before a big test, a sports event, or presentation, stress can motivate people and help them perform better. While short term stress can motivate you or initiate your flight or fight response, long-term stress can have serious negative impacts.
Long-term stress is typically caused by stressful situations--like changes at work, world-wide panic, and other problems. Even daily hassles, like trying to figure out a new work-from-home setup can contribute to long-term stress. Long-term stress can negatively affect our attention span, memory, and how we deal with emotions.
Even if you have no history of a mental illness like depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, or addictive behaviors, a mental health concern can become a mental illness when signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.
With COVID-19 causing many people long-term stress, it can have a serious effect on their mental health.
Mental health issues manifest in different ways. Since every person is different, their signs and symptoms will likely vary from others. Symptoms of mental health issues can also vary depending on the type of mental illness. Some signs and symptoms include:
Mental illnesses can be caused by inherited traits, brain chemistry, and long-term stress. Preventing a mental illness is not always possible, however, if you notice yourself experiencing any symptoms, you can talk to your doctor or therapist to understand what might trigger your symptoms. Talking to a professional can allow you to get the help you need and take care of yourself. Controlling stress and increasing your resilience to boost low self-esteem may help you have power over your symptoms.
As people began to cope with COVID-19 and being cooped up in their homes for weeks on end, it became clear that they needed a way to feel in control to handle their stress. For any situation, these are some positive ways to deal with stress:
Set a routine
Routines can help you feel in control of your day and surroundings. Setting a routine can help you manage your sleep schedule, eat regular meals, plan time to exercise, and plan things to look forward to.
Get sunlight and fresh air
Open a window or take a walk outside to get some fresh air. Sunlight provides vitamin D and serotonin, a chemical that gives you more energy and keeps you calm and focused. Fresh air is good for cleaning your lungs and can make you happier.
Read reliable news sources
News can contribute to our stress, especially during times of worldwide panic, like COVID-19. Reading reliable news sources can help ease stress--though you should limit your time spent reading the news to help you control any panic you may have from the information.
Self-care should be an important part of the day for everyone. While many people believe self-care should look like bubble baths, facemasks and a daily yoga regimen, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Simply washing your face, taking a shower, or planning your outfit for the next day are all examples of caring for yourself.
Exercise is good for more than just maintaining your physical health. Exercise can help limit depression symptoms, decrease feelings of stress, relieve tension, and release endorphins. Physical activity can help decrease the physical symptoms of stress in the body as well, like tense muscles, headaches, and back/neck pain. If you don’t have a gym membership or a safe place to exercise outdoors, try indoor workouts.
Technology is amazing and allows us to stay connected even in chaotic times. Talking on the phone with friends, family, coworkers, members of your church group, and members of other organizations you are a part of can help you stay socially connected. Social connections can lower levels of anxiety and depression while building self-esteem and empathy. Plus, having connections gives you someone to talk to when you feel alone.
COVID-19 has changed many people’s routines, jobs, and daily lives. Now that restrictions are lifting, people are starting to go back to work, leave their homes, and visit their friends and families. Although the end of social distancing and quarantine has been met with relief, it’s still normal to feel concerned about your health and the health of your loved ones. Adjusting to new, more normal routines may feel a little odd at first, but take it one day at a time and continue to wash your hands regularly and wear a mask. Just as you adjusted to staying home all day for weeks, you can adjust to being back in the community.
If you are under a lot of stress and feel that you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, reach out to one of these mental health resources:
Talking to someone about your feelings can help you feel understood and in control of your life. A therapist may even prescribe you medication that will help minimize the symptoms you feel. Relying on your mental health resources is one of the best treatment methods of stress, negative mental health symptoms, and COVID-19.
COVID-19 has made people feel alone and stressed. These two factors together are a recipe for poor mental health. During times of uncertainty, it is paramount that your mental health is a priority for you and that you are aware of any symptoms of mental illness. If you need help or just someone to talk to, reach out to one of your mental health resources. High Country Behavioral Health has licensed therapists and telehealth services that can help you take control of your circumstances. To schedule an appointment, please visit our contact us page.