COVID-19 is deadly. That’s evident from the 200,000+ deaths recorded in the USA alone since mid-March 2020. But what impacts has it had on the world and its mental health? What about families? Friends? Loved ones?
Knowing how many cases of COVID-19 there are in the USA alone, chances are you know someone who has either, a) had the virus, or b) died from it. Either way, you’ve definitely been affected, whether you can’t see your friends socially or your parent is a front line worker taking care of COVID-19 patients daily (with everyday exposure to coronavirus). This all leads back to potentially disastrous effects on mental health in both teenagers and adults.
Let’s discuss the toll of mental health on teens first. Studies show there are at least 43% of teenagers currently experiencing depression and mental health issues. This isn’t a surprising fact, though. Overnight, teens were pulled from their friends, schools, sports, and daily routines and pushed into this unknown situation. They do not know when the pandemic will end or when it is safe to return to their everyday lives with friends — that is, their lives before the pandemic.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other studies have proven that adults are having difficulty sleeping and tend to work longer hours when working from home. This is partly due to stress about the pandemic, but also knowing about the instability of their jobs. Adults now have more responsibilities in households as well: maybe they cook for their families every night instead of an average of 4 times a week, or perhaps adults must clean their houses on their own instead of having a weekly cleaning service, or maybe they are helping their young children with schoolwork as children are learning virtually.
COVID-19 also has affected the ability to hang out with friends (both for adults and teens) … Teenagers are typically considered to be social butterflies of society, mainly because they love being able to see and talk to friends in-person on a daily basis. Typical activities include going to a local mall or movie theater, which we shouldn’t be going to right now, seeing as those places are major touchpoints. This all relates back to routines and how they’ve changed majorly over the past 6-8 months.
Although it might not seem it, TV can be another big stresser for the mind. When you turn on the TV, the usual thing to see nowadays is a political ad or more breaking news about COVID-19. Instead of watching TV (although it might seem relaxing, it really might be doing the opposite to your brain), perhaps take a stroll around your neighborhood and enjoy the fresh air. Take a look around you and take note of the things you haven’t had the chance to do before — check out the beauty of the fall foliage or the pretty holiday decorations.
Here’s a list of additional outlets and brain exercises that could help you to de-stress or relax:
· Deep breathing
· Walking or biking
· Read a book or keep a journal
· Take a break from your schoolwork
· Take a cat nap
Evidently, there are many people struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you find yourself feeling depressed, make sure you talk to someone. Remember you are not alone — COVID-19 has upended everyone’s lives. Keep in mind that the person you reach out to could be a parent, a guidance counselor, a therapist, a teacher, or any other adult that you trust. It’s important that your mental health is #1 during this Pandemic, not put on the back burner.
Make sure to stay active and healthy!