How Covid Has Impacted Our Mental Health
The pandemic also known as Covid 19 has impacted us all. We were hit with a virus that quickly spread through our communities with very little warning. We had to reassess everything that we did. We were faced with the closing of schools, jobs, stores. This left us feeling helpless and some of us hopeless. This impacted our mental health in many ways. Some of us were totally unprepared for what was to come. For the first time, some of us could not pay our rent, car payment, bills and purchase groceries. We lost coworkers, family members, friends, neighbors and peers. This translated to anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations and grief.
Anxiety defined a s a feeling of worry , nervousness and unease about a immanent event or with an uncertain outcome is what most of us are faced with. We wake up with the uncertainty of whether we will we be impacted today. We have become preoccupied with whether we will contract this virus and whether we will be able to survive it. Watching the news, going to the grocery store , going to bed at night makes us anxious.
Depression –feeling sad or having depressed mood, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite , sleep disturbances, loss of energy, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness , difficulties concentrating are among symptoms felt during the covid crisis. Though most of us will not be diagnosed with clinical depression , however we will have one or more symptoms of depression. This is considered “normal” at this time. The losses that we have and will face will impact us. We are left crying, feeling
helpless and out of control. We don’t know how to manage the everyday tasks. We are living in fear of loosing our homes, financial independence, savings, community.
Grief defined as deep sorrow experienced usually by the death of someone has and will be experienced by all of us. We have lost loved ones and have not been able to terminate. We have had to witness ambulances bring our loved ones to the hospital and not return home. We have had to attend virtual funerals. We have not been able to express our grief with our communities and have been left isolated in our grief. We have experienced guilt because we were not able to save loved one. We will have to return to our jobs when coworkers are not returning. We will be left speechless because we don’t know what to say. We will be traumatized by further losses as the next few months go by.
How can we handle all of this? There is not right or wrong way to handle but here are some pointers to
assist you as you try to navigate through your feelings and try to remain stable during this unstable time.
1. Identify a support system-family , friends , neighbors
2. Make daily contact with someone
3. Understand that everything that your are experiencing is “normal”
4. Focus on self care- take time to engage in activities that are soothing and that you enjoy
5. Utilize relaxation strategies –Yoga, exercise, deep breathing daily
6. Identify your strengths during this difficult period and affirm yourself daily
7. Offer to help someone who may need assistance
8. Seek professional help if you are not able to handle it on your own
9. Verbalize your anger, sadness, grief.
10. Plan for the future- how will life be different and what will I need to do
11. Acknowledge your blessings despite the losses and express gratitude
12. Made amends with family and friends
13. Be able to “hold space” for someone meaning just be there to listen. You can’t fix this.
14. Let those around you know that you care
15. Engage in behaviors that are constructive not destructive
We are here for you. Reach out to each other. It doesn’t cost anything to be there for each other even when we have nothing to give but time.
-Martine Perrin is a Senior Social Worker and Licensed Therapist.