Our Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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I can still remember those first whispers of the phrase “Coronavirus” that began spreading across our news platforms and social media accounts earlier this year.

During the beginning, many of us felt untouchable by this so-called virus that seemed so misunderstood and distant from our day-to-day activities. As it began its breach into the United States, however, we were left in a state of foggy confusion over what to do next.

The conditions involved with flattening the curve and keeping our families safe during these strange times, however, can become a perfect storm for severe mental health conditions. Knowing what to do to protect yourself is critical to your well-being.

The Early Stages of the Pandemic

As the prospect of a statewide shutdown became imminent, I started wondering what I needed to do to prepare for the experience.

I went into a “hurricane prep” state of mind.

I filled my home with enough snacks and wine to cover the cravings of my both my children and myself I scoured store shelves looking for the one remaining toilet paper pack we would apparently need to battle this respiratory illness. And finally, I spent endless amounts of time coming up with the Pinterest-worthy crafts and learning activities I would need to entertain my children during their sabbatical at home.

Like many of us, I started off strong.

I woke up early every morning and made a good breakfast for my family. We spent those early days playing games, running around outside, and generally making the most of this unique opportunity.

With time, however, I noticed a change in my approach to our quarantine lives. A subtle fog seemed to be settling over my mind. Each day, I would crave social interaction a little bit more. Every morning, my children seemed to get a bit more screen time than the day before.

Suddenly, I realized I was not thriving during the pandemic. I was being overcome with my own personal anxieties, and I didn’t know what to do to keep them away.

Signs You’re Struggling with Anxiety and Depression During Quarantine

It’s no surprise that many of us find ourselves in a compromised mental state during this strange new reality. In fact, a recent study has shown that up to 72% of new mothers are experiencing anxiety, which is 43% higher than before the pandemic began.

Our typical ways of life have been stripped away from us. They’ve been replaced by an unprecedented level of uncertainty about what’s to come, and when, or whether, normalcy will make its triumphant return.

From the isolation of a shutdown to fear of the disease itself, stress, anxiety, and depression can quickly develop during a pandemic—even if you’ve never dealt with them before.

If you’re trying to decide whether you’re dealing with one of these issues, there are several signs you should be aware of, such as:

  • Trouble Going to Sleep or Changes in Your Sleep Patterns
  • Difficulty Staying Focused
  • Fear Over Your Health, Finances, or a Loss of Support Services
  • Substance Abuses, i.e., cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol
  • Changes in Your Eating Patterns
  • Declining Mental Health Problems

What Should You Do if You’re Struggling with Mental Health Problems During the Pandemic?

While getting the professional help you need is always the most beneficial option for treating mental health conditions, there are a few at-home solutions you can try, including:

Stick to a Good Routine

When you have a good routine in place, it can not only help increase productivity, but it will eliminate the stillness that can become a breeding ground for stress for anxious thoughts. Plus, it will help your family maintain good habits they’ll need when things go back to normal (notice I said when—positive thinking, at its best!)

Keep Up with Your Current Mental Health Treatments

If you’re someone like me who struggles with anxiety regularly, a worldwide pandemic is not the time to get creative with your treatment plan. Following through on everything you’re supposed to be doing to maintain a healthy frame of mind is more important now than ever.

Practice Self-Care

Trust me, I get it; when you’re a parent, the whole self-care thing isn’t so easy. We get so busy trying to take care of everyone else’s emotional and physical needs that we forget about our own. Make sure to carve out a little bit of time each day for yourself. Need some ideas on what to do, we’ve got you covered:

  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Journaling
  • Read a BookCall a Friend or Family Member
  • Have a Glass of Wine (Feel free to substitute a glass for a bottle if it’s been one of “those days.”)

Does your schedule make it hard to do some of these things? Take five minutes and jump in the shower. Even five minutes can be helpful during stressful times, and for me personally, a shower is always a much-appreciated break.

Focus on the Positives

It might be hard to find positives during these trying times, but it’s not impossible. Take time to appreciate all of the good things in your life, and be thankful for the chance to spend uninterrupted time with your family. In our busy lives, moments like these won’t come around too often.

You Are Not Alone During this Pandemic

If you take nothing else away from this article, please hear this. You are not alone.

We’re all battling the same invisible enemy, and longing for the moment that we can just be “done” with this unusual situation. Until then, find comfort in the thought that we’re all in this together. And know this—I think you are brave, strong, and fierce.

So, keep your head up. This is only a chapter in the rest of our story.
If you feel that you need additional help during these trying times, please consider some of these organizations: