The coronavirus pandemic has changed so much in such a short span of time.
And amid the uncertainty, many Americans are finding themselves in isolation as they practice social distancing.
Social Distancing is Hurting Our Mental Health
Of course, staying at home can (and does!) have a positive effect on slowing the spread of infection and easing the burden on the healthcare system. But at the same time, it’s having a negative effect on those struggling with mental health.
Social distancing is proving to be difficult for many people, especially those who thrive in social situations. Being stuck at home alone or only with family can be incredibly difficult. However, it’s proving particularly devastating for people suffering from depression.
It’s understandable. Social distancing, isolation, and quarantines can have some serious mental health consequences. And this connection isn’t anything new, either. It’s been known for some time that social isolation and disconnectedness have been known causes of depression.
It’s just that required social distancing is new territory that we’ve never experienced before. The situation is on a much larger scale. We’re seeing some serious negative effects on a large part of the population.
What You Might Be Experiencing During This Time
Here are some of the common emotional reactions that you may be experiencing, or can expect to experience:
- Depression and boredom: With our normal daily routines disrupted, businesses closed, and schools operating online, we’re all struggling to keep ourselves entertained and our spirits lifted. We’re also finding ourselves without regular daily interactions with others — not in person, anyway.
- Fear and anxiety: It’s normal and understandable to be worried about contracting or spreading the virus. It’s also normal to feel scared or anxious about getting food or supplies, when we don’t even know when this will end. There are a lot of unknowns that can leave us afraid or anxious.
- Anger or irritability: Maybe you’ve never had to figure out how to order your contact lenses online, or perhaps you’re frustrated that all the things you were looking forward to have been cancelled or postponed. You might even be angry at other people who don’t seem to be doing their part to help quell the spread of the virus, making lockdown last longer.
How to Cope With the Challenges of Social Distancing
Remember that these reactions and feelings are normal. Acknowledge what’s going on, and that it’s stressful. Try incorporating some breathing exercises into your day-to-day life, and reach out to friends and family via call, text, or video chat.
Actively try looking for the good — like people who are helping neighbors in uncertain times. You’ll be surprised how much a shift in your perspective can help your mental health.
Above all else, seek the professional help you need to help you through this difficult time. Many mental health professionals have shifted focus to telehealth, making it possible for patients to continue therapy from the comfort and safety of home.