The elevated level of anxiety today, both socially and individually, will remain an issue long after the pandemic is over. Here’s how to protect your mental health today for tomorrow
By Quentin Steen, Representative
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world as we know it in many ways. But perhaps the biggest issue we face impact wise is not the pandemic itself but what it is doing to the state of people’s mental health, specifically anxiety (due to fears of getting the virus) and depression (due to social isolation).
The elevated level of anxiety today, both socially and individually, will remain an issue long after the pandemic is over. We will witness a drastic spike in the number of anxiety-related disorders and substance-related disorders (these are often comorbid) in the pandemic’s aftermath.
During these times, it is helpful to remember that we may be dealing more with a person’s state of mental health than the issue they raise with us. We might not be able to solve their issue but it will help us to empathize with them and keep us from taking things personally, especially in situations where there is very little we can do to help the person.
Everyone knows what it’s like to be afraid or scared. That’s what we can relate to, even if we can’t relate to or help the person with their specific issue.
Anxiety is our body’s normal response to abnormal circumstances. But if we’re not careful, it can take over and slowly destroy our well-being.
There are a number of helpful ways we can deal with anxiety. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a valuable resource for everyone during this unprecedented time.
There are also some things we do that can amplify anxiety and depression, such as lack of sleep and exercise and unhealthy eating. But information overload and watching too much social media is probably one of the worst. Limiting your exposure to media is not only helpful but essential to your mental health.
It’s important to keep abreast of the latest news, but that can be easily accomplished once a day on your local news hour. There’s no reason to spend your day updating yourself constantly.
And don’t consume media at the expense of forgoing those activities that are actually helpful, like exercise. Take short breaks throughout your day to breathe deeply and purposefully. If you haven’t downloaded an app like Calm or Headspace, now is a good time to do so.
Oh, and one last thing. Stop watching Netflix movies like Contagion, Outbreak, and Pandemic. They only serve to make matters worse, especially for those experiencing significant levels of anxiety. Although the movie only lasts two hours, it will imbed itself within your psyche like a tick.
Instead, grab a bowl of popcorn and settle down with a show like Mascots, The Office, or even Frozen if you’re so inclined.
Now, I’m going to take a break and push some weights around. Get your brain healthy and your mind with follow.