With over two million cases across 210 countries as of writing, the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. With most nations shutting their borders, they’ve also placed many of their citizens under community quarantine. Social distancing is the new norm as residents are to stay indoors. But this crisis is damaging not only to physical health.
Similar to the virus itself, its impact on our mental well-being does not discriminate. Anyone can experience these issues during the pandemic as well as after its resolution. Here is how the crisis affects us psychologically:
Causes Anxiety And Distress
The feelings we all most likely share at the moment are distress and anxiety. Such is not surprising given how there’s a lot to be worrying over.
For one, there’s the disease itself. Since COVID-19 is a new illness, there is currently no cure for it. It’s thus especially scary to become infected. Low recovery rates in certain countries also further add to the anxiety. Health workers are especially at risk.
Similarly, we not only worry about ourselves but also for our loved ones. While some of us can afford to stay at home, others continue to work outside. Those who work in hospitals and clinics, food establishments, groceries, pharmacies, and the like come into contact with others every day. We don’t know how safe they are during this time.
Next, there’s distress over the disruption of our usual routine. Many of us have patterns of what we do daily, such as going to work or school which we don’t get to do anymore. Jobs have shifted to work-from-home arrangements, and students have no choice but to learn online.
Lastly, we feel anxiety over the uncertainty of the future. Most affected countries continue to see new cases every day. There’s no definitive estimate as to when this will all end. Many are worried that they won’t have a job after this pandemic. Students wait as their schools and universities are unsure how to proceed with the rest of the semester. Small businesses worry whether they can recover after the pandemic.
When dealing with anxiety, the best thing to keep in mind is that there are things we cannot control. Try to focus on what we can do for now. Try not to listen to the news for too long, as the negative headlines can take a toll on us. Continue to reach out to loved ones for emotional support.
Brings About Sadness And Depression
Another thing many of us are feeling nowadays is sadness. With how the pandemic changed our lives in a short amount of time, the trauma can lead to depression.
As we mentioned earlier, many of us are self-isolated due to social distancing and quarantine protocols. Some of us are lucky that we can communicate with our loved ones through the internet or phones. However, the physical distance between us can still leave us feeling lonely. The causes of anxiety we discussed earlier can also lead to a feeling of sadness.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t be scared to reach out to others. Watch out for signs such as a prolonged feeling of sadness, insomnia or oversleeping, crying episodes, irritability, and difficulty in concentrating. Look online to find if there are options for you to talk to a counselor for help. Open up to your loved ones about how you feel and ask for support. It’s best to deal with these issues before they get worse.
Pushes Us Toward Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Another effect of this pandemic is that it can push us towards unhealthy coping strategies and vices. Being cooped up at home can disconnect us from our usual support system. Some may rely on their friends for help while others turn to activities such as working out. Stuck indoors, people may start looking towards other coping mechanisms, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or even self-harm.
During these times, you have to try to be as resilient as you can. Stick to positive ways of coping, such as seeking external help, meditation, and physical activity. Remove anything in your home that can tempt you into dealing with the pandemic negatively.
Nobody can deny how large of an impact the coronavirus epidemic has had on our lives. It’s a traumatic experience for us all, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and sadness. Such can also put us at risk of developing maladaptive coping mechanisms.
However, such feelings are normal to experience during trying times such as these. By recognizing how the outbreak is affecting us, we can start to find ways to overcome this new challenge. During this crisis, we must pay attention not only to our physical well-being but also to our mental health.