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. And while long-term effects of the virus are still being established, healthcare professionals estimate that some individuals who have overcome the virus could experience lasting hair loss, sleep issues, accelerated heartbeat, joint pain, and a lasting loss of taste or smell.
While the vast majority of the world is well aware of the health complications one can experience as a result of 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, mental health concerns regarding COVID-19 can affect individuals who haven’t even contracted the virus.
As you continually work to manage mental health challenges related to the pandemic, here are a few ways that COVID-19 has impacted mental wellness around the world.
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 eventually these healthy decisions will become automatic, healthy habits.
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 is now time spent on video calls. It’s harder to pursue healthy eating practices, when isolation and an increase in food delivery options can make it so easy to replace fresh vegetables with fried food. It’s harder to maintain consistent sleep schedules, when all it takes is a pair of sweatpants and an internet connection before you’re technically “at work.”
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 is all made more difficult by 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. Circumstances have forced an increasing number of individuals to seek mental health treatment, in efforts to combat the effects that pandemic has delivered.
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.
Address mental health challenges today
Here’s the good news: today can be the last day that you’re alone in dealing with any of the above mental health issues, or any mental health challenges you might be facing. Learning to cope with the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic means adopting healthy, productive techniques that can help you reframe your perspective and pursue long-lasting mental well-being.
If you’re ready to take productive steps toward managing the mental health effects of COVID-19, we’re ready to help. Call us at (883) 525-3077, or reach out today to get started managing your own mental health concerns.