Last updated on December 10th, 2022
Mental health experts advocate voicing mental health problems. As it disrupts our normal lives, COVID-19 is making us feel anxious, angry, fearful, frustrated, and sad. Psychologists tell that all of these feelings are normal because of disturbed mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, as the crisis progresses, prolonged isolation, economic uncertainty, and coronavirus fears will almost inevitably accentuate certain mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and substance abuse.
In particular, a recent survey by the Family Foundation revealed that nearly half of the nation’s people said the COVID-19 pandemic is already damaging their mental health, and about 20% said it had had a “negative impact deep” on their mental health.
To improve your general attitude, psychologists recommend a lot of sleep, eating balanced meals, going out if possible, and doing some physical activity. Self-compassion is also important, as acknowledging your feelings can help you cope healthily.
We have asked psychologists for advice on dealing with certain mental health problems during these difficult times. Here are the adaptation strategies for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
#1. “I can’t stop worrying about COVID-19.”
If anxiety about the virus is dominating your thoughts, the first strategy to try for mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic is to spend less time on the news and social media. Psychologists agree that a continuous cycle of negative headlines causes anxiety and stress.
“The news puts your brain on alert, even if you don’t realize it,” says a licensed psychologist. “Some of my patients watch the news all day and go from one channel to another, and that only increases the cortisol level.”
Consider spending no more than thirty minutes a day on the news, or only watching it once in the morning and once in the evening.
The expert also recommends connecting frequently with friends and family through video calls or over the phone. “When you’re alone with your thoughts, anxiety can skyrocket,” he says.
If anxiety is making it difficult for you to function or do everyday activities like paying bills or bathing, it means that it is time to consider seeking professional help.
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#2. “I am drinking more than usual.”
Sales of alcoholic beverages soared in March as people turned to the drink (or prepared to do so) to address concerns and fears related to the coronavirus. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine after dinner, it’s important to find other strategies to try to manage stress and improve mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drinking too much can make certain health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease worse. And it can also accentuate feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety.
Drinking too much alcohol can also weaken your immune response, which is the exact opposite of what you should do during a pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “binge drinking” as eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more per week for men.
If you’re concerned that you may be drinking too much, an expert recommends setting limits and trying to stick to them, such as perhaps only drinking on certain days, or having the first drink with dinner.
Call a substance abuse hotline, or ask a friend to be your mentor.
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#3. “I feel sad, unmotivated and alone. Am I clinically depressed? “
At this time, many feel sad, and for good reason, but according to Dr Daley, that does not mean that you have depression. Allow yourself to lament over the things you don’t have, like eating out at restaurants, travelling, spending time with friends and so many other things, and also allow yourself to cry a little.
Symptoms of clinical depression include insomnia or excessive sleep, extreme despair, cutting social connections, crying spells, and a sedentary lifestyle. Also, many depressed people feel that they no longer enjoy things that used to be entertaining.
“The problem is that most of these symptoms match the characteristics of quarantine,” according to Daley.
To lift your spirits and improve your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, try going outside every day. Sit on the porch or go for a walk, and remember to keep a proper distance from others.
Research shows that spending time outdoors and sunbathing on your face are closely linked to happiness, says Expert.
Try scheduling a variety of activities each day so you have things you’re looking forward to doing, and finding ways to connect with friends and family. You can also lift your spirits with mindfulness exercises, meditation, yoga, and other ways to take care of yourself.
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#4. “My spouse is driving me crazy.”
Living with someone else always requires some negotiation, and that’s especially true if you’re stuck in the house all day with social distancing and your spouse is the only person you see.
Experts recommend talking with your partner to set limits and create a basic daily schedule and spend time together. You can also create a space for yourself if you go outside or go to another room and use headphones.
This exercise is essential to relieve stress and balance mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. While you may not be able to play tennis or basketball, there are plenty of free exercise videos online, from cardio workouts to yoga classes.
In the meantime, be sure to set aside time to have fun with the people you live with. Do a puzzle together, go for a walk, or see if you can still win a Scrabble game. Better yet, try a new activity, like taking an online class.
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#5. “Home Quarantine is making me insane.”
Instead of thinking you’re locked in, change your mindset and think that this is the time to focus on yourself and your goals.
Can you do a magic trick to show your grandchildren? Is there a project you can do to improve your home? Haven’t you always wanted to learn another language?
If this is overwhelming, start with small daily goals that you can achieve, such as listening to an audiobook for half an hour, doing ten minutes of exercise every day, or rearranging one drawer at a time. Then you can add more goals little by little. It’s like priming a pump.
Connecting with friends and family frequently can also help alleviate the feeling of confinement. Schedule an hour to have fun with friends via Zoom, connect with an old friend from college, or call your aunt who is in a nursing home.
“There are probably other lonely people in your circle,” say experts. Call them. There is nothing more important for their mental health than social support, just like yours.
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“Migrants and their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic”
Every migratory process usually involves a series of changes and adjustments for the migrant person and their family. Migrants must adapt to new languages, cultures, traditions and systems of social functioning.
These changes can generate a temporary increase in stress levels, which tend to self-regulate as the person adapts to the new environments, routines and way of life in the destination country.
However, when the migration process is going through a crisis, this adaptation process is much more challenging and can be accompanied by negative psychosocial consequences.
Regardless of the immigration status, it is expected that a health crisis such as that produced by the Coronavirus pandemic, brings with it an increase in the levels of stress, sadness, confusion, anger or fear people.
It is a new and unknown situation that, within the framework of mitigation measures, has implied many changes and challenges in the work dynamics and lifestyles of people around the world. This is particularly true for migrant populations, who may be facing greater vulnerabilities or challenges.
Many migrants may be experiencing uncertainty about their future, loss of loved ones or concern for their well-being, as well as difficulties in accessing reliable information and services due to language barriers.
Some people may also feel guilty about family members or loved ones left behind in higher-risk locations, or they may fear being separated from their families due to health quarantine measures.
Physical isolation disrupts mental health
Physical isolation measures pose a challenge to anyone’s mental health. However, migrants have the aggravation of being far from their environment and their support networks. Prolonged isolation can cause stress, exhaustion, emotional detachment, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, increased use of psychoactive substances, poor concentration and indecision, deterioration in work performance, lack of motivation to work, and/or bad mood.
Stigma and discrimination can also deteriorate the mental health of migrants, because of being blamed for being the carrier of diseases. Stigmatization can occur not only in the host country but also when they return to their country of origin. Migrants from countries or regions where more cases of the virus have been reported are particularly vulnerable to this type of stigmatization.
Also, the stranded migrants present particular psychosocial vulnerabilities that require specific attention. Migrant workers, particularly those employed in informal economies, may be experiencing significant economic hardship due to loss of employment or other livelihoods.
Populations living in shelters, camps or similar environments may have difficulties in implementing the necessary hygiene and physical distancing measures suggested by health authorities, due to limited access to hygiene supplies and the characteristics of the infrastructure in which they live.
Furthermore, these populations often face more risky working and housing conditions for their physical and mental health.
Migrants, particularly those with irregular immigration status, can face great barriers to accessing health services promptly and in a language, they can understand.
This includes access to tests to confirm or rule out COVID-19, as well as subsequent treatment. All of these situations can lead to higher levels of stress, and worry.
Steps to be taken to maintain good mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
If you work with migrants, these adaptation strategies can help promote your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Always adapting them to the possibilities of the context in which their activities take place.
- Facilitate the use of technology so that migrants can stay in touch with their friends and family. It is important to create spaces to share emotions with trusted people.
- Promote healthy lifestyles, including proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and physical exercise, even during isolation.
- Promote avoiding smoking and taking alcohol or other drugs to deal with unpleasant emotions. Instead, facilitate virtual access for migrants to mental health workers and support them in devising a plan of where and how to seek help if they need it.
- Provide access to information from reliable sources in the language of migrants, so that they can take reasonable and fact-based precautions.
- Promote limiting exposure to media reporting news about the health crisis, this can help reduce distress.
- Support them in identifying the skills they have used in the past to overcome adversity and provide resources to put them into practice.