Managing Your Mental Health During a Pandemic

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered our way of life, including how we spend our time, closeness with other people, our plans, and how we think about daily routines and activities. 

We are all experiencing a crisis that has led to collective trauma. Many of us have lost loved ones or know of someone who has. Some of us have lost jobs or been furloughed, and others have had to adjust to a new normal of working from home on a daily basis. The country is now being hit doubly with a health crisis and economic recession.

 

How does this pandemic affect mental health?

  • Suicide and Overdose deaths

    • The physical toll from the pandemic is widely being reported on. It is less clear how our mental health will be impacted There are an overwhelming number of stressors such as sickness, role changes, loss of job, economic loss, and loss of social support that are associated increased in suicide and overdose deaths.  Help is always available, even during a pandemic.  If you or someone close to you is in danger of hurting themselves you can go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

  • Anxiety and Depression

    • There has been an increase in treatments and prescriptions to treat anxiety and depression since the start of the pandemic. 

    • Anxiety can be described as feelings of fear, worry, and nervousness in response to unfamiliar and dangerous situations. 

    • Depression is defined as having a sad or depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed, and loss of energy. 

    • Most people experience anxious and depressed feelings at times. In  the face of this pandemic, it is likely that you have experienced these feelings at some point.  It is important to seek help if you are feeling this way frequently or if it has interested with your ability to do your work, complete tasks at home, or lowered your enjoyment in spending time with those around you.

 

People have very different responses to times of crisis. There is no right or wrong way to react when your world is shaken up. Some common responses to trauma from a crisis include:

  • Disbelief/Denial

  • Emotional Numbness/Shock

  • Anger, Mood Swings, and Irritability

  • Panic

  • Social withdrawal

  • Increased dependency on substances 

  • Grief

  • Dramatic changes in sleeping and eating patterns

  • Questioning faith and religion

  • Children: Regression in skills and behavior; aggression; withdrawal; anxious feelings; emotional outbursts; increase in tantrum and oppositional behavior

 

  • It is possible that you have experienced more than one of these responses as the pandemic continues – maybe even multiple at the same time! Just remember that you are not the only one, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. 

 

Is there anything I can do to help me get through this crisis?

  • Here are some positive coping skills to help you remain calm and reduce stress during the pandemic: 

    • Creative Activities: Knitting, drawing, writing, cooking, creating content

    • Relaxing: Gardening, reading, prayer/meditating, deep breathing, drinking tea, aromatherapy, listening to music

    • Positive Thoughts and Speech: Reframe thoughts and statements, give yourself “pep talks,” congratulate yourself for accomplishments, make positive comments throughout the day

    • Seek professional help: If you feel that you are in imminent risk of suicide or self-harm, call 911 immediately. If you do not believe that you are in imminent danger but still need additional support, please call to speak to one of our providers at 516-382-4567 to discuss the best course of action. 

  • Exercise: Running, calisthenics, yoga, biking, walking, light weight-lifting 

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