COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has taken a massive toll on the physical health of millions of people worldwide. However, what isn’t making global headlines is how the pandemic has also posed serious repercussions on mental health and well-being.
If you’re not feeling like yourself these days, you’re far from alone. In fact, many people are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns stemming from the loss of loved ones to COVID-19, uncertainty about the disease, and feelings of isolation as a result of social distancing and lock-downs.
Read here for a closer look at this mental health phenomenon and some ideas for coping with pandemic-induced anxiety.
Can COVID Cause Anxiety?
The Novel Coronavirus pandemic challenged the world in unprecedented ways. To have the best chance at stopping the spread of this deadly virus, public health experts recommended social distancing, shut-downs, and other forms of physical separation. While these measures were deemed necessary for physical health and safety, they were accompanied by unanticipated side effects in the form of heightened emotional symptoms such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
In a recent special issue of the academic journal, Psychological Trauma, dedicated to the effects and implications of COVID, researchers concluded, “In an ironic twist, many of the strategies that are critical to ensuring our collective public health during this pandemic may put people at greater risk for...mental health issues.”
COVID and Mental Health
Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center’s article offers seven eye-opening ways the pandemic is affecting mental health. According to this source, stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, have skyrocketed since the pandemic began. Despite that we have been adjusting to a “new normal” for more than 18 months, these symptoms of deteriorating mental health persist. Psychological distress and poor sleep also contribute to the persistence and worsening of these symptoms amongst many sufferers of COVID-induced emotional symptoms.
Different People, Different Effects
This isn’t to say that everyone is suffering from pandemic anxiety. In fact, many people have demonstrated “remarkable resilience,” which scientists attribute to the popular notion that “we’re all in this together.”
At the same time, some populations have been more impacted by the negative effects of pandemic isolation than others. Among them are younger people and those who live alone, women, and disadvantaged groups. The status of your work situation may also predispose employees to mental health issues for reasons ranging from layoffs to the challenges of working from home.
Personality also is a factor that affects if someone will suffer from COVID anxiety. Some people are simply less able to tolerate uncertainty and distress than others. It follows that these same people may be more affected by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, other groups have been uniquely affected by COVID-19. For example, global domestic violence has increased during the pandemic due to factors ranging from unemployment and financial stressors to shuttered shelters and more people living at home in abusive situations.
And while racism has always been a problem, the disparities between black and white Americans have been underscored during these turbulent times. Not only are minorities more likely to get COVID and less likely to survive it if they do, but they are simultaneously engaged in a critical fight for racial justice.
“Black people have been hit on all sides with the threat of loss of life. It is exhausting. Depleting. Depression. And absolutely an additional stressor,” Professor Riana Anderson told Greater Good Magazine.
Managing Stress During COVID-19
One of the major contributors to stress and other mental health woes during the pandemic is lack of control. Unfortunately, the reality is that we are largely powerless to change the current health situation.
However, there are some self-empowering things we can do to manage the uncertainty we're surrounded by and consumed by. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following coping strategies:
- Seeking out news from reputable sources and limiting social media use
- Taking care of your body by eating right, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, meditating, and avoiding excessive alcohol and drugs
- Getting vaccinated and continuing with routine preventative measures
- Making time to unwind and participate in activities you enjoy
- Connecting with others and talking about your feelings openly (normalizing the dialogue about COVID stress)
- Participating in the community or faith-based organizations
If your emotional struggles are interfering with your everyday activities and overall well-being, contact your healthcare provider. Additionally, there are many free and confidential resources and community mental health services that offer access to trained mental health professionals.
Why Mental Health Matters
Through it all, the importance of mental health awareness cannot be overstated. The more we shine a light on and normalize dialogue about this common issue, the better we can omit stigmas associated with mental health and move toward a healthier — and more accepting — society.
At happii, we’re all about raising mental health awareness and promoting healthy mental habits that can help you persevere and live more fully. A small yet significant part of this effort is the practice of daily positive affirmations like the ones we print on our products.Our positive and uplifting collections are focused on improving the lives of our customers — and we’re thrilled to say they’re doing exactly that! To learn more about happii, our mission, or our beautiful and inspiring mental health apparel, contact us today.