Ways COVID-19 May Be Affecting Your Mental Health
Updated: Nov 27, 2020
When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we may not always consider the importance of mental health as part of our overall condition. Our busy lives and added responsibilities have allowed stress and anxiety disorders to creep into our normal daily lives.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has permeated our lives, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that around 40 percent of American adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse. The pandemic is creating unprecedented circumstances for people worldwide, and because we are all adapting to living and working in these times, it can be challenging to identify how the pandemic is impacting mental health.
Here are six ways COVID-19 might be impacting your mental health.
1. Loneliness and Sadness
As people around the world are encouraged by public health experts to stay home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve,” we are going out less and participating in far fewer social situations. We have been required to forego family gatherings, holidays, vacations, social interactions, and more. Being homebound has created feelings of isolation, loneliness, and sadness for many people as socialization is largely done now via Zoom, FaceTime, or other video call formats. Even seeing co-workers no longer offers an opportunity to connect in-person because most people are now working from home.
We are not seeing friends and loved ones who live outside of our homes as regularly as we normally do, if at all, and many of us grieve for the loss of our social lives. Though it is normal to feel lonely and sad during these times, take care not to dwell on these feelings for too long. Regularly dwelling on these negative feelings can make your situation seem hopeless and cause you to spiral into further depression.
2. Added Family Stress
The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and go to school, but we still must keep our households running. In many homes, the parents are working from home while the children are attending school virtually. Others might be experiencing job loss or reduced income. Still, others are stressed by the need to find in-home assistance to help care for children while they work. From changing our schedules to assuming added responsibilities at home, we have had to make many adjustments to our family lives.
It can feel stressful for everyone to be home at one time, all the time, and it is more important than ever to ask for help with your situation when you need it. Whether help means making some changes to shared responsibilities with members of your household or seeking outside help, it is critical to recognize the need for change or assistance.
3. Fear or Anxiety About the Unknown
If you are fearful or anxious about the future, you are not alone. Each day we are bombarded with news and statistics about the pandemic with little information about a forthcoming resolution. This leaves many people feeling unsure about what the future holds. We are eagerly awaiting a vaccine, and we do not yet have a firm timeline for when this will allow us to resume our "normal" lives. You might feel worried about your health and the health of your friends and loved ones. Your concerns might be financial or job-related. Whatever your concerns, they are valid, and many others share them.
4. Increased Irritability and Quick to Anger
Patience is a virtue, and that somehow seems truer in the time of COVID-19. We have been living in a pandemic for nearly one year, and the added stress and anxiety about the future has understandably made some of us more ill-tempered. If you have noticed you are feeling more irritable or have a short fuse lately, this can likely be attributed to the situation created by the pandemic. As we navigate these strange times, we are dealing with much more than we are used to. Living in our socially distant world has made many people uncomfortable and testy since we cannot go out and do the things we are used to doing. Feeling on-edge, impatient, or angry is normal when we are forced out of our comfort zones for an extended period.
5. Difficulty Sleeping
The increased levels of worry and anxiety the pandemic has created can also manifest physically and affect our sleep patterns. As our minds mull over current events of the day and how we will handle what comes our way, you may find yourself tossing and turning at night. It can be difficult to “shut off” our minds and relax when the pandemic has created so many added challenges in our daily lives.
6. Lack of Concentration
Just as it can be difficult to sleep at night during these uncertain times, it can also be difficult to concentrate on tasks during the day. Anxiety and depression have a way of seeping into our lives and making it challenging to perform even simple tasks during the day. If you find it more difficult to focus on basic tasks, the pandemic may be impacting your mental health and overall ability to cope.
Ask for Help
From depression and anxiety to stress and feelings of burnout, there is little doubt people are feeling the impacts of the pandemic in several ways. For many of us, it can feel challenging to face all that we need to manage in our daily lives during COVID-19. Simply hoping that feelings of depression and sadness will go away may actually make them worse over time. Asking for help may feel uncomfortable or unnatural for some, but it is increasingly important. There is no shame in asking for help, and during these increasingly challenging times; finding support is critical to improving one's mental health.
Taking care of yourself should always include your mental health and these tough times magnify the significance of that. Remember, we are all in this together and must seek help as well as help one another to navigate these unprecedented times as best as we can.
If you need us, Empathy Therapy is always here for you.