COVID-19 and Mental Health
I remember as if it were yesterday, March 2020, when all our lives very suddenly came to a screeching halt. All of a sudden, we were told to stay inside, not go to work or school, not see our friends and families, we stopped seeing each other’s smiles, hospitals were overwhelmed, and we hoped for a speedy return to normal. Fast forward to now, we are currently two years into this pandemic, and although things are certainly better, we are all learning to adapt to the new normal.
With this new normal, many people are facing new struggles they haven’t had to face in the past. Anxiety is now so prevalent, anxiety over becoming sick, anxiety over seeing new people, anxiety about commuting in public, etc. People have experienced trauma throughout this pandemic, witnessing loved ones die, losing jobs, previously healthy people now having health issues. And let’s not forget the loneliness that many are feeling with continued isolation from friends and loved ones. So many things have changed throughout this pandemic, but it is important to remember that you are not alone in these struggles; many others are experiencing these things as well.
So, what can we do about these things?
Human’s need connection, it’s a biological need, and one of the toughest parts of this pandemic was the isolation. Some ways to maintain that connection while still remaining safe is to plan outdoor activities with friends and family, go ice skating in Bryant Park, take a stroll through Central Park, have a snowball fight when it snows. If you are a spiritual/religious person, consider joining virtual services at a church or synagogue or another place of worship. Plan a movie “date” with your friends where you stream a movie together over Zoom, or have a virtual hangout. In the digital age, there are many ways to form connection with others without having to be physically in the same place.
With regards to anxiety and trauma, working with a therapist that you trust can be incredibly helpful. There is no shame in needing help to deal with these very difficult adjustments to a new way of life. And as always, if you need support reach out and ask for it. It doesn’t make you a weaker person, in fact, asking for help makes you incredibly strong. Check in on your vulnerable friends and family, nothing feels better than knowing someone cares about how you are doing.
Mental Health Counseling Intern