Like many people right now during Covid-19, you may be feeling more anxious, helpless, worried, sad, a variety of powerful emotions. You may not know when things will start looking up again, and that fills you with dread. You may have lost hope, and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel through this pandemic. It’s tough not to feel worried, hopeless, and anxious about almost everything these days.
Many people have had their lives turned upside down because of the pandemic, whether had to adjust to working from home, homeschooling their children, or lost their jobs. These changes to lifestyle can take a negative toll, and for some, cause fear, anxiety and stress. Some people may have fallen into a depression, being isolated from their peers. The COVID-19 pandemic may be impacting your mental health, according to various surveys and hotlines, as recorded in this Mighty article.
The feelings of worry, helplessness, hopelessness and utter dread are spreading among the population more than ever before. What’s strikingly familiar?
Everyone is currently going through something that is so similar to what depression sufferers deal with. Yes, the struggles you’re currently coping with now, are struggles mental health warriors battle every day – not just through this these unprecedented times. Are more people understanding mental health matters now because of the pandemic?
I hate having to make the connection but I have to point it out because many people are now experiencing what it feels like for someone who suffers from depression and anxiety. And that strangely makes me feel a little relieved because finally, people who could never empathize with me are now unwillingly in the same position. It’s opened up their narrow views on mental health because they’ve been thrown into the frenzy of emotions we typically struggle with. Now you know how I feel all the time!
Personally, life was challenging before the pandemic. I had been working from home for years and in the midst of looking for a career change. While I struggled with keeping it together, I had hopes for the future. And then the pandemic hit.
I’ve been trying to understand why I’ve been managing fairly well over the past few months. I’ve had a few anxiety episodes and helpless moments… but these haven’t been any different than pre-pandemic. You see, as someone living with anxiety and depression, I’m used to coping with these feelings on a daily basis. So perhaps that’s why I’m feeling more than prepared to deal with the isolation restrictions and emotions most of the population had suddenly been thrown into. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found a 41% increase to its hotline since the beginning of the pandemic.
For a long time, I have my treasure chest full of tools and coping mechanisms that I draw upon when needed. I wrote about some of these lifesavers here: How to Keep Your Mental Health in Check.
One thing that works for me is filling my days with things to do. Since mid-March, I’ve been keeping myself busy with home projects. I swapped my office with my son’s bedroom, repainting both rooms; painted an armoire, and planted a garden, to name a few. And then suddenly I hit a wall.
I had done so well for four weeks but then boom, I was done. For a week following, I wasn’t able to be productive at all – likely triggered from the pain and hormonal cocktail of a heavy period. Rather than be upset about it, I succumbed to my body and gave myself a mental and physical break, allowing myself to enjoy the inactivity and relax (when I wasn’t withering in cramp pain). That week was a write-off, and I was okay with that. I could get back on track the following week and finish my projects.
Having realistic expectations is an important component of keeping your mental health in check. You may feel inundated with what other people are using this time to do; set a new goal, start a new hobby, take an online course, spend more time with the family. Placing these expectations on yourself may result in feelings of inadequacy and failure. So rather than try to push yourself to be product and maximize this time, be realistic and know your limitations.
The bottom line is that you’re not going to be super productive every single day, and that is more than okay. Know when it’s time to take a break and have some down-time. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not feeling motivated or in a good mood; you’re also entitled to feel crappy and sad. That means you should listen to your body’s cues and stay in your pajamas and watch movies all day.