We’re all familiar with the effects that COVID-19 has imposed on the entire world. Social distancing, work-from-home environments, limited public gatherings and masked faces have quickly become the new normal.
It’s likely that we’re all also familiar with the physical effects of this virus. Short-term COVID-19 symptoms can include fever, fatigue and shortness of breath, as well as headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches and a loss of taste or smell.
While the vast majority of the world is well aware of the health complications that may result from COVID-19, it’s also worth noting that the pandemic delivers an equally wide array of potential mental health challenges. And unlike the physical symptoms of the virus, it goes without saying that impacts of COVID-19 on mental health can affect individuals who haven’t contracted the virus.
There’s some consolation knowing you’re not alone, though. Many people have responded in the same ways as you have to this overwhelming and unprecedented stressor. Here are some adjustments we’ve all had to make during the pandemic.
Change in daily routine
Mental health is fortified when we adhere to a daily routine, one that includes regular sleep times, regular diets, regular tasks, etc. Among other negative effects, COVID-19 has disrupted the daily routines of so many individuals around the world.
Much of our mental health is rooted in regularity. Whether we realize it or not, we benefit from daily structure – from bedtimes to recipes, we trust the small things to provide order during the day. That’s why it’s so important to pursue a healthy diet and a productive sleep schedule where possible: not only are you doing your body a favor in promoting health, but this rhythm of life translates to sound mental health.
Unfortunately, if COVID-19 has done one thing, it has altered the way we fulfill our daily routines. Daily commutes have become walks to our home offices, and time spent with friends has often been spent in virtual realms. We may have neglected our diet or personal hygiene knowing we’d be isolated for periods of time to prevent the spread of the disease.
Ultimately, change in daily routine can yield considerable mental health effects. A lack of structure and the accompanying healthy practices can leave the door open for threats to your mental wellness, including substance use, stress and depression.
Making existing conditions more difficult to handle
It’s no secret that COVID-19 can make existing situations even more difficult to handle. Grocery shopping is made more difficult by the required social distancing measures. Socializing, meeting new people, getting to know neighbors, hanging out with coworkers and spending time with family are all made more difficult by the limits of gatherings and the obvious health concerns.
Even hobbies like outdoor sports and hiking are affected by the closing of public facilities. The fact that the pandemic has made our settings more difficult to enjoy has understandably fostered a wide variety of mental health challenges.
Of course, existing mental health issues are often made more difficult by COVID-19 as well. Individuals struggling with depression are learning to navigate new isolation and loneliness. Those learning to mitigate anxiety or stress are now forced to adapt to an environment that can sometimes make symptoms worse. And of course, grief and loss are prevalent emotions felt by so many during these difficult times.
Increase dependency on substances
Substance use issues have also become prevalent during these times. With an increase in personal and work-related stress, as well as mounting financial pressures that can exist as byproducts of businesses closing, substance use has become an oft-use method for escape. Drug and alcohol use have led many into self-destructive patterns, adding to the list of issues to be overcome.
Anxiety is a normal and valid response to the state of the world during rapidly changing times. Especially for those who lived in a state of flux, like having medically vulnerable family members or job insecurity, COVID-19 surely increased anxiety.
Here’s the good news: today can be the last day that you’re alone in dealing with any mental health challenges or disorders you may be facing. Pyramid Online Counseling can offer the support you’ve been looking for.
Deal with depression, anxiety and other impacts of COVID-19 on mental health with a professional. Get in touch today.