There are many aspects of life that have been deeply affected by COVID-19. Schools are struggling to find what safety methods work best. Restaurants and stores are debating whether to stay open or not. As a whole, our entire sense of normalcy has been shifted. Even though physically the signs of adapting are there, such as wearing a mask and following new opening and closing hours for different places, it can feel like a completely different situation when looking at our mental health. While keeping ourselves healthy physically should definitely be a top priority right now, our mental and emotional states need to be of priority as well.
Studies from the CDC have shown that stress rates for most people generally have risen due to fear of contracting and passing COVID-19. Now for most college students, high stress is something that we are very good at creating. Given how long COVID-19 and the other side-effects have been spreading in the world, it’s not surprising to see people’s mental health start to be severely affected. Constant worrying over catching the disease, having less face-to-face human interaction and having most of the certainties and securities of daily life being uprooted can create the perfect storm for a rise in anxiety, severe loneliness and even depression to arise in people. These symptoms aren’t just affecting people who already have pre-diagnosed mental health problems. People who have been seemingly unaffected by mental health issues in the past are also starting to notice signs of internal struggle.
So what do we do about this? First and foremost, it’s important to recognize just how stress and other issues can make themselves known. Some signs can include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, difficulty concentrating, increased use of substances and many others. Now of course, stress and anxiety make themselves known differently in different people. It’s important to be on the lookout for anything that seems out of the ordinary regardless of previous experiences with stress, anxiety, etc. Monitoring mental health and understanding why you feel a certain way is the best way to begin to handle everything.
One of the most important things to do when your mental health is being challenged is to validate your feelings. Acknowledging the way you feel is something that will help you realize what it is exactly that is making you stressed and how to best cope and deal with that. Yes, 2020 has not been the easiest year for most people, and it can be really easy to let all the craziness get you down. That’s why now more than ever it’s important to take care of yourself mentally as much as you do physically. Don’t stress (easier said than done, I know), stay connected to the people who care about you and reach out for help when you need it. Most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself because I’m certain we’re all doing the best we can and that’s enough.