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10 Ways COVID-19 is Affecting Our Mental Health (And What to Do About It)

Health and Safety Anxiety

One thing that most people have experienced during the pandemic is anxiety about your health and safety and the health and safety of those you love. With how quickly the virus spreads between people, this is a very rational anxiety that can bleed over into other areas as well.This high alert that your body has been running on because of this type of anxiety can wear you out and begin to affect your mental health other ways as well because it becomes more chronic as the pandemic continues. Take care of yourself, and make sure the people you love are being safe as well. Know that it is normal to feel this way, and many other people are feeling the same way too.
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Loss of Jobs

It’s no secret that the pandemic has led to thousands of people being laid off from their jobs at companies that couldn’t handle the brunt of the new changes. Entire industries are suffering as well.This loss of jobs can cause more people to begin to feel hopeless, without a purpose, and desperate, leading to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It is a difficult thing to navigate, but we can hope that it will get better with time.
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Changes in Sleeping and Eating Patterns

Because of this increased mental and emotional load from all of the stress of the pandemic, do not be surprised if you have noticed changes in your normal sleeping or eating patterns.Stress can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep, leading to insomnia or restless nights. It can also cause you to eat more than you usually do or eat way less than you normally do, neither of which are good for your health. Recognize these new changes, and start trying to create better habits to manage your stress.
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Worsening Depression

Depression has also gotten worse for many people during the pandemic. People that weren’t depressed before have developed depression symptoms because of the lack of in-person connections and activities that used to give them fulfillment and joy.People who suffered from depression before the pandemic have experienced worsened symptoms for similar reasons because social connections are usually great for helping those with depression. If you are experiencing new or worsened symptoms of depression because of the pandemic, there are resources out there to help you through this time.
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Increased Social Anxiety

People who suffer from social anxiety have anxiety related to social settings. They usually fear what people might think of them or just fear being around people in general.Social anxiety symptoms worsen when there is less exposure to people, so having to socially distance and isolate during the pandemic can definitely worsen these symptoms. Adding on the anxiety of health and safety when around people can make these symptoms increase as well.
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Leading a More Sedentary Lifestyle

Another thing that might be affecting your mental health might be a more sedentary lifestyle. Since many of us cannot leave our homes nearly as much as we used to, this leads to fewer steps taken and more time spent sitting and laying down.Sedentary lifestyles have long been connected with poor mental health, and this is because movement is very important to physical and mental health. Not moving much throughout the day can make mental health worse.
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Worsened Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you have noticed that during the winter, you experience a more depressed mood and decreased energy, you might have seasonal affective disorder. This is mostly caused by not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight because the sun is further away during the winter.COVID-19 can make this worse because of the already depressed mood you may be experiencing because of the pandemic. You might have already noticed similar symptoms even in the summer from being inside all of the time and not getting much direct sunlight.
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Increased Domestic Abuse

Another tragic result of prolonged stay at home rules is the increase in domestic abuse. Studies have shown that numbers of cases in domestic abuse in the United States increased during the first few months of the pandemic.A main reason domestic abuse happens is the abuser’s feeling of lack of power, and they use abuse to feel like they are regaining that power. We are all feeling more powerless because of the pandemic, but this is one of the most heartbreaking statistics for mental health this year.
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Loss of Social Networks

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders are triggered or made worse because of a loss of social networks and the disappearance of social gatherings and not being able to see friends and family for months.These mental health disorders can also cause people to withdraw from their social networks as well, so forced social distancing combined with a tendency to withdraw socially leads to many missed connections and people not reaching out to friends and family, even for just a call.
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Greater Chance of Burnout

With more people working from home and healthcare workers working around the clock, work/life balance has gone totally out of whack. Working from home blends work and home life together, while spending hours upon hours at the hospital makes little time for friends and family.The lack of work/life balance can easily lead to burnout, and many of us are feeling this collapse. Burnout is a lack of motivation and energy caused by overworking and not having proper boundaries with work. Unfortunately, this is pretty unavoidable during the pandemic.
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Solution: Find Ways to Safely Exercise

Exercise is a great way to break the mundane cycle of the day and to have a chance to get out of your head for a while. It has been shown to have great effects on mental health both short and long term.Of course, you should exercise while following proper social distancing guidelines. Go on a walk and stay away from as many people as possible while wearing a mask. Do an at-home workout. There are many options to exercising that don’t involve having to go to the gym or a group class.
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Solution: Reach Out to Friends and Family

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, you should reach out to friends and family for a video chat or phone call. While it might not be the same as seeing them in-person, it is still better to make some contact than none at all.We know that it might be difficult to reach out when you are suffering from anxiety and depression, but it will help a lot to be able to talk to people who care about you that you haven’t seen in a while.
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Solution: Follow the Guidelines from the CDC and WHO

A great way to help ease any worry or fear about the spread of the virus is making sure that you are following the guidelines placed by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.While you can’t make everyone else follow the rules, making sure that you and those closest to you are following the rules can help put you at ease. The guidelines there to keep us safe, and following them is the best way to feel safe during the pandemic.
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Solution: Practicing Mindfulness

One thing that helps with many different mental health issues is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply being aware of how you are doing and feeling. Understanding that the way you are feeling is okay to feel and valid can do more for your mental health than you might think.Different ways you can practice mindfulness are by meditating, doing yoga, journaling, or even talking about your thoughts and feelings with a loved one. Think of these as exercises for your thoughts and emotions and your mental health.
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Solution: Know That There Are People Working to Make it Better

Another way to ease your mind is to trust that the professionals who have now made solving the pandemic their life’s work are working hard to make it all better. Trying to control the situation yourself will only make your mental health worse, so trust that you can let go of that control and rely on the professionals.Many researchers are working tirelessly to make a vaccine, doctors and nurses are working overtime to heal the sick, and healthcare organizations are doing their best to protect the public. We don’t have much control of the situation, but these people are working overtime to make sure it gets better.
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