The full impact of COVID-19 on our nation’s mental health has yet to be seen. COVID mental health issues may result from a number of reasons. The isolation in lockdown can lead to depression and anxiety. The fear of the virus may cause feelings of helplessness. Job losses and financial strains can cause stress and anger. How to address mental health issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is something that everyone must learn.
Different for Everyone
Surveys have proven the pandemic’s effect on people’s mental health. YouGov is an international research agency that runs a global COVID-19 tracker throughout 26 countries, which includes the United States. YouGov has surveyed the changes COVID-19 has made in people’s lives. Mental health was found to have been largely impacted by the pandemic. In April of 2024, YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker found that three in five people feared they would get COVID-19. Almost half of the people surveyed showed signs of depression, some of them severe.
According to the YouGov tracker, the influence of the pandemic on mental health is not being felt equally. Women expressed more fear and concern about the pandemic, compared to men. Hispanic people feared the virus the most (29%). About a fifth of back people surveyed (21%) were also very worried about the pandemic. Only about 16% of white people were fearful of the virus.
Although people experience pandemic differently, everyone’s mental health is affected by the COVID-19 changes. Whether you are an essential worker in a grocery store, a nurse in the emergency room, or a mother in social isolation with her children, the changes can — and will — affect you somehow. Signs of mental health issues are difficult to spot, especially if you’re the one going through the issues. Changes can occur bit by bit and can snowball into something that is hard to manage.
Five Ways to Manage COVID Mental Health Issues
It’s important to find ways to help maintain your mental health. The following are ways to assist you with keeping your mental wellbeing up during the pandemic.
Be Patient with Yourself and Others
The COVID-19 pandemic is new for everyone. There’s no “normal” way to handle it. People will feel differently depending on their situation. Give yourself, and others, some room to make mistakes or be anxious. Don’t expect yourself or others to behave as they would before the pandemic. Nothing is the same. You shouldn’t have to be, either.
That said, it’s not okay to hurt yourself or others in the process. If you find yourself being unable to control your anger or depression, seek help.
Have a Routine
Routine helps to keep some things the same when the world around is changing. Even small routines make a difference. For instance, even if work is put on hold or there’s been a job loss, wake up and get dressed each morning. Or wake up and have some coffee at the same time each day.
Set a goal to perform the same small tasks throughout the day. You may want to take a short walk at the same time in the afternoon, then have a short bath at the same time before bed. Having a routine keeps the mind on track and alert, rather than having the hours melt together.
Limit Your News Intake
Knowing what’s going on locally and throughout the world around you is essential. However, you don’t want to be surrounded by bad news. It’s easy to find yourself getting sucked into newsfeed upon newsfeed.
If possible, limit your news watching to a set time of day. Allow yourself to consume the news for a defined time period. Then turn the news off and find something else to do. Letting yourself get lost in bad news can cause unnecessary worry and anger.
Keep in Contact with Others
Resist the urge to avoid all social contact. Even if people need to practice social isolation and keep their distance, they can still keep in touch. COVID-19 doesn’t need to keep you completely away from your friends and family. In fact, it can bring you even closer. Find ways to reach out to them. Keep yourself from total isolation.
There are ways to encourage social interaction and still follow distancing guidelines. You can still meet up with a friend and take walks outside as long as you keep your distance. You can have dinners over video chats and watch tv shows together over video chat or on speaker. It might take a bit of effort, but it can keep you from sinking into isolation and depression.
Find Creative Ways to Manage Your Mental Health
These aren’t your usual circumstances. This might be a good time to think outside of the box. You can find creative ways to manage your COVID mental health issues.
Have you considered things like yoga or mindfulness meditation, but were hesitant to try? Now might be the time. Yoga not only keeps you fit without having to leave your home, but it also calms the mind. You can find free YouTube channels or paid apps that can walk you through a beginner’s tutorial on yoga.
Mindfulness meditation can also help you manage the stress and anxiety from the pandemic. You can learn to pay special attention to the world around you, moment by moment. Or you can spend time sitting quietly and coordinating your breathing. Free websites can assist you with starting mindfulness meditation.
Hypnosis is another way to address any COVID mental health issues. Used by many mental health therapists, hypnosis can be a way to help you through this pandemic situation. You can meet with a certified hypnotist through a video call or go to an office. A hypnotist trains your mind to approach anxiety and fear in more positive ways, allowing you to focus on the other things you need to do. Eli Bliliuos from the NYC Hypnosis Center says, “I have been helping clients via Skype throughout the pandemic”. To learn more click here to visit the NYC Hypnosis Center website.
Don’t Let COVID Mental Health Issues Hold You Back
Yes, these are challenging and painful times. It will take focus and strength to be resilient enough to make it through, but it’s possible. Taking the time to care for your mental health will get you through to the other side of the pandemic.