As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage through the country, another situation parallels the health crisis: mental health. Anxiety, depression, and addiction are creating new challenges even for those who didn’t suffer from these conditions before. Between the constant, neverending news of the invisible threat, the loss and grief experienced by thousands of others, the financial insecurity plus the hopelessness and loneliness caused by social isolation, millions of people are left vulnerable.
March 2020 recorded a nearly 900 percent increase in call volume to the national Disaster Distress Helpline as compared to March 2019. The unpredictability of the pandemic occurring and what will happen in the near future is also producing its own type of stress. Changes to routine can cause significant stress, it’s a major reason why depression and anxiety increase during the holiday season. Many people’s underlying mental health conditions have worsened while in isolation, as well as new people who are struggling to cope with the newly produced stress of the nation’s current situation.
There are ways to try and manage the stress many of us may be facing. We may not be able to control the path or effects of COVID-19, but we can try to organize our lives and routines around it to relieve some of our personal stress.
Try to gain a sense of mastery amid the uncertainty.
Take charge of the situation by establishing a daily schedule, staying connected with loved ones, staying physically active, picking up some new hobbies or pursuing other projects. Those who feel like they’re victim to the situation with no control are more at risk for depression and anxiety.
Establish a special place at home to do work.
Get dressed in the morning. Open the blinds to welcome in the sunlight and remain in step with the day. It’ll help regulate your mood and maintain focus on day-to-day tasks that you’ll be able to manage and achieve.
Communicate with neighbors and organize help for the elderly or vulnerable.
By offering your help to those who may need it, it creates a sense of purpose and human connection that’ll help keep you grounded emotionally and develop some optimism.
Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Fatigue increases anxiety and can alter your daily schedule which can lead to depression.
Stay connected with relatives and friends.
Whether it’s by phone or video conference, it’s important to stay connected to others. For those who’ve experienced a loss, organizing a video conference to mourn together is a crucial step in the process of overcoming the loss.
It’s important to seek professional help if you feel that your anxiety or depression is so great that it is prohibiting you from carrying out your daily tasks or your ability to communicate with others. Many major insurance companies have revised their guidelines to cover virtual therapy like telemedicine, video conferencing, text apps, etc.