The restrictions that have been imposed due to the pandemic have had a dramatic effect on overall mental health, according to a Gallup poll taken in November 2020. Although the majority of adults in America currently rate their mental health as excellent or good (76%), that represents a 9 point drop over 2019 and a corresponding sharp increase in negative ratings. As a counselor, I don’t need a Gallup poll to tell me people are experiencing a decline in mental and emotional health because of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed to contain the spread.
Now enter the second wave of COVID-19. Some states are implementing shutdowns again, which could cause continued deterioration in the mental health of both children and adults in America. If you’ve been feeling negative emotional consequences of the pandemic, you are going to have to be extra vigilant and make a strong, intentional effort to take steps to keep yourself in a positive mental state.
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Be very intentional about maintaining basic habits that have a significant impact on your mental health. These include eating healthy foods on a regular basis, getting sufficient sleep, and exercising. When you are feeling low or experiencing anxiety or depression, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to maintain basic healthy habits. If you’re experiencing this scenario, find a “basics buddy” to whom you can be accountable. Your buddy might also need help to keep up healthy habits, so it could really be good for both of you.
Find more ways to connect
Maybe you were ok not seeing people for a couple of months during the initial restrictions. But if you keep it up for too long, you may find such isolation adversely affecting your relationships and your emotional and mental health. Now is the time to look into participating in online book clubs, setting up chat groups with friends, and planning regular, scheduled “visits” with family members utilizing one of the many video conferencing platforms available.
Research new financial streams
If your income has been impacted, don’t allow yourself to give up or sit around the house. Do some research to look into side gigs that would work in this new economy. You might be surprised at the many ways you can make money!
You can sell things on eBay or Craig’s List, look into being a distributor for a product you really love, or begin a hobby creating products you can sell, like homemade soaps. Try freelancing or consulting. Publish an ebook. Get paid to take surveys or do user tests.
Just the act of discovering the many income options available can give you a sense of hope that things may turn out all right. By finding what works for you and starting to earn your own little side income, you could be building something that will be a source of relief.
There’s no doubt that the longer the shutdown lasts, the more difficult it will be to maintain long-term emotional and mental health. If you are trying to implement these steps and it just isn’t giving you enough relief, do not hesitate to get help from a licensed mental health expert. Find someone in your area, or feel free to call me today to see how I can help.