Mental health tips for coping with post-COVID life – NBC Los Angeles
The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, but with the reopening day of June 15 that removed many state restrictions, California is on the verge of extinction.
Despite the joy of the victory, 21% of American adults said they felt “high levels of psychological distress” as a result of the pandemic, according to a March 2021 report from the Pew Research Center.
According to California Division of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the organization “reported a 65% increase in helpline calls, reminders and emails” between March 1 and April 30, 2020, compared to figures for the same period in 2019.
The past 15 months have forced people around the world to face job losses, economic instability, disability, disease and millions of deaths. This unprecedented mental load adds to the stress of political, environmental and social upheavals during the same period.
While Californians can now enjoy indoor meals and have the option of skipping a mask in many situations, some people may still feel anxious for their safety – even though they know they are protected by a vaccine. .
According to Dr. Bridget Callaghan, assistant professor of psychology at UCLA and director of the Brain and Body Lab at UCLA, this hesitation is normal.
The changes everyone had to make at the start of the pandemic, like bringing a mask everywhere and washing and sanitizing their hands more often, were “very common,” Callaghan said.
The habit-building process is part of the reason people might have done things like forgetting a mask first before going home to get one – now “the habit” is normal life.
“It takes time to adjust to things, and we’ve been living with the pandemic and the fear of the virus… for so long,” Callaghan said.
Intellectually, people may know that their vaccination means little or no risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, but usually and emotionally it has been a concern for a long time. It’s natural, and “feeling weird” is expected to return to normal, Callaghan said, even in cases where you and the people you see are fully vaccinated.
In addition, not everyone will feel the same about the impacts of the pandemic. When an introverted person may have been relieved to spend more time alone at home, an extroverted person may feel isolated, and a person who has lost loved ones may experience intense grief.
“It impacted people in different ways,” Callaghan said, and various reactions are normal.
Adjusting difficulties may, for some people, come with new or increased stresses from whatever happened during the pandemic.
“Stress is such a fun thing,” Callaghan said. “Stress in itself can just interfere with our ability to cope with other things.”
A little stress can be a good thing, she says. When it comes to something like a looming deadline, the body’s short-term stress response is to release hormones like cortisol, which wake you up and equip you to handle the current situation.
But the long-term chronic stress of an ongoing crisis – such as a global pandemic – can essentially “maximize” the brain’s ability to cope with new challenges.
“Day in and day out… it ends up wearing us out, to the point that we aren’t able to cope with things properly,” Callaghan said.
That’s why day-to-day relationship, family, money or work issues that would have been manageable before can seem completely overwhelming in the wake of the pandemic.
Beyond chronic stress, more people can show symptoms of mental illness. As noted in the Pew Research study, “the fear and isolation associated with the pandemic has been responsible for a wave of anxiety and depression over the past year.”
And in Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Resources for the Pandemic, people are expected to feel “general apprehension, anxiety and fear of the unknown”, “sadness, loss of interest, hopelessness and apathy” and “Existential stress, self-doubt or thoughts and feelings related to a decreased sense of self are worthwhile”, among others.
Symptoms of mental illness can vary, with “different things for different disorders,” Callaghan said.
For anxiety, common symptoms include “feeling a little panicked” or “being afraid for no reason”, or feeling “jittery, nervous or nervous”.
If something traumatic has happened to an individual as a result of the pandemic, they may experience symptoms of PTSD such as “repeated intrusive thoughts” or “painful dreams” about the event, Callaghan said.
Depression, on the other hand, can make people feel “very unmotivated,” Callaghan said. People with depression may eat too much or too little, sleep too much or too little, and feel hopeless for the future, as if nothing is right. be the same or good again.
These symptoms may sound like broad feelings that everyone has, but they come close to the territory of mental illness needing special attention when they affect daily life in a negative way, according to Callaghan.
“Really, it becomes a problem when it’s a problem for you,” she said. “So if you are going through these things and it makes it difficult for you to go about your daily business,” you should seek help.
Our country is facing not a mental health crisis, but many. The first is the stigma surrounding mental illness. The second is the difficulty of finding help. NBCLX contributor Alex Wohleber speaks with people on the front lines of the crisis. Visit lx.com/mentalhealth for more stories and resources.
A person in acute and immediate distress who wishes to harm themselves or others can call a hotline, such as the LA County Crisis Line at 1-800-854-7771, or National Suicide Prevention. Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Those who do not wish to call can text “LA” to the LA County Crisis Line at 741741.
But someone who is just feeling overwhelmed may try to find a therapist to help them cope with the stress and grief they felt during the pandemic.
“The first thing I would say is definitely get professional help,” Callaghan said. “If you are feeling weak … the best thing to do is reach out.”
Anyone who feels overwhelmed by new mental health problems can consult their doctor, local psychiatric society, medical school or community mental health center and get a referral to see a psychotherapist.
And for people who are doing well but may like extra unprofessional support, Callaghan said, reaching out to a friend or family member and rebuilding your social support network can help.
“It’s really good to be open and upfront with people,” she said, and discussing pandemic stress with someone else can reveal that you’re not the only one feeling this.
“There is a door where these feelings are reciprocated.”
More than anything, when it comes to the psychological impact of the pandemic, said Callaghan, “it’s really important right now especially to be really gentle with ourselves.”
“It’s going to take a long time to adjust” to the not quite post-COVID period, she said. “It’s not just going to go back to normal easily. “