Mental Health Impacts of Coronavirus & Strategies To Cope
Anxiety and stress are normal psychological and physical responses to the challenges of life. It is normal to feel anxiety, stress and worry during a crisis and we all respond differently to difficult circumstances. However, when we face demanding situations on a daily basis, as we are with the current coronavirus pandemic, we can be pushed beyond our ability to cope.
All problems become worse under stress and we tend to experience strong emotions under extreme conditions. Loneliness, isolation, financial pressures, a change in daily routines, uncertainty about the future as well as worry about how long the pandemic will last can contribute to an increase in anxiety and depression. In addition, information overload, rumors, misinformation and not knowing who to believe or what to do can make life feel out of control. Parents report being exasperated and discouraged about having to balance working from home with helping children do schoolwork and keep them busy. Couples who have trouble communicating, don’t share the same values and were struggling before this crisis, may find that their difficulties are escalating. With these challenging conditions, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression can worsen.
Federal agencies and mental health experts caution that a historic surge of mental-health problems is imminent: anxiety, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic abuse and suicide. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll indicated that nearly half of all Americans reported that the coronavirus crisis is having a negative effect on their mental health. A federal emergency hotline recorded a 1,000 percent increase in calls during the month of April when compared to April of 2019.
The CDC states that symptoms of stress that may affect our mental health during the pandemic can include:
- Anxiety and fear about your health and the health of your loved ones
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Worsening chronic health issues
- Increased use of alcohol, substances or tobacco
It’s important to take care of your body and mind during these demanding times. These self-care strategies can help you take charge of your life and may help you to create new healthy habits that can help you to cope with all of life’s inevitable challenges.
- Take care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and getting some exercise every day.
- Take care of your mind by creating a new routine. Limit your news intake, unplug from screens, and implement a meditation practice. Find time to stay busy with projects and hobbies and find strength from your belief system.
- Set aside time for yourself by going for a walk outside, listen to music or read a book.
- Manage conflict by getting some space. Find a quiet place to be alone, or use headphones to listen to music and take time out.
- Connect with others via phone, text or virtual platforms. Check on family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Don’t forget to reach out to those who may be alone, especially the elderly.
- Get help when you need it. If despite your best efforts to manage, if you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed or hopeless, it may be best to reach out to a mental health provider. Most now offer guidance and help via online Telehealth platforms and phone.
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we offer both in-person and online therapy by experienced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) therapists. Research guidelines recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of anxiety disorders (such as social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, panic), depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Our CBT therapists have the expertise to help you improve your outlook on life, overcome challenges and achieve future goals. Together, we can help you to manage current difficulties and give you the skills to get you moving in the right direction, even when we return to our new normal.
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