A Pandemic Approach to Mental Health

For Mental Health Awareness Month this year, I’m placing a focus on the pandemic’s impact. At this point, I’ve been working from home for 15 months, my life has seen drastic changes, and I have hit more mental walls than I ever thought possible in only a year. Part of me hoped I’d never really write about my mental health approach from this last year and a half. Now that this is the second Mental Health Month in a pandemic, I decided to share parts of how I’ve been able to find peace and wellness where I could find it. This approach includes a dose of pessimism, an emphasis on focus and a willingness to let out my emotions when I need it.

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I Can’t Always Do More – And That’s Okay

In a surge of excitement earlier this week, I decided I’d go get a haircut in-person for the first time in more than a year. The pandemic and my anxiety are the main reasons I haven’t done so already, and while I didn’t regret that at all, I got excited because I found a place to go that I might feel more comfortable in, that wasn’t as busy and didn’t have as much going on. But then things shifted.

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How Social Anxiety Operates in a COVID World

Now that we’ve been living through a pandemic for almost a year (or more depending on where you live), I have a good read on the types of articles that are being written about this moment in time. A category that I see more than I’d like are stories about how life is “different” now. Whether it’s getting more meals delivered than you ever thought possible or logging on for an online game night, it’s clear that socialization isn’t the same right now. But some things persist in a COVID world, and as it turns out, social anxiety is one of them. Even though life is mostly through a screen, I’m dealing with social anxiety at a higher rate than ever before – and I know I’m not alone in that.

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COVID-19’s Impact on the Mental Health Community

At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, the general public is well aware of who is most at risk to be hit hardest by COVID-19. Older adults and people who have underlying health conditions are those that we need to keep a close eye on and we need to make sure they’re getting all the care they need and maintain an extremely safe distance. But as we’ve learned, other groups are also at risk to be hit hard by this pandemic – including those who suffer from mental illness.

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Understanding Where We’re All Coming From

There are so many new difficulties we’re facing these days. Trouble sleeping. Finding things to do while we’re staying at home. Making sure we can handle feeling more alone than usual. It’s a whirlwind just to prepare mentally, physically and emotionally to live in a world that’s very different from what we’ve come to know. With that preparation comes learning new things about people, systems and everything else. And it can be extremely frustrating.

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Finding a Light in a Dark Time

It’s only Tuesday, but I can already chalk this week up to being one to forget. There’s plenty to worry about in the world but truthfully, that wasn’t what got to me (this time). Obviously, we all have our own approaches when facing tough situations and times of crisis, and what I’m learning is that not everyone handles it the same way. While most of it is for the best, some of it is…not. And dealing with those people – whether they’re friends, family, co-workers or classmates – can be frustrating.

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