In March 2020, life as we knew it started to become a fleeting memory. Shutdowns, mandates, and disease forever altered our way of life.
Whether you, or someone you know, have experienced COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt as we race to get booster shots into the arms of Americans.
As vaccination brings some semblance of normality and restoration, and we shift our perspective away from physical health, the focus should now shine on the mental health related ramifications of the pandemic.
Stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness hit all-time highs in a world already ravaged by the effects of inflation.
Now, more than ever, we need to focus on the impact of the pandemic on mental health.
COVID-19 in America
One March 1st, 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Florida. The pandemic’s effects touched down in Florida with a promise to forever alter Floridians’ way of life.
The pandemic cast a dark cloud over the Sunshine State as it halted tourism, beach activities, and the sunshine Florida is known for.
As the Sunshine State looked towards a “new normal” (like the rest of America (and the world) it was not without its challenges and pitfalls.
COVID-19 took Floridians on a journey of ups and downs, and of highs and lows, in the realm of mental health. As Floridians for went their way of life, the pandemic ravaged the state.
Loneliness, anxiety, anger, pain, sorrow, and depression became the new normal, much different than the “new normal” most of us looked to in the face of the pandemic.
Nevertheless, Floridians maintained resilience in the face of disaster and uncertainty.
According to Yahoo! News, Florida now has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the country per capita, as of October 28th, 2021.
Mid-August, Florida was averaging about 25,000 COVID-19 cases daily. At the time, it was the highest rate in the country.
The Sunshine State became plagued by the Delta variant as it tore through suburban, rural, and urban areas. Florida, at the time, became one of the major epicenters of the pandemic.
However, over the past two months, cases in Florida have drastically plummeted.
As the Sunshine State slowly returns to normal and businesses rejoice and resume activities, what about their mental health?
In February 2021, Florida’s mental health reported spikes in depression and anxiety during the pandemic.
In Panama City, at the Life Management Center, anxiety and depression were treated extensively, often citing the ramifications of the pandemic as a sole cause, according to WTVY 4.
What You Can Do to Cope
Talk to a therapist
A therapist can help you work through feelings of depression and anxiety. Check in with your insurance to find an in-network therapist that’s a good fit for you.
As people’s fight or flight response to the pandemic dissipates and life slowly returns to normal, some people may have a delayed reaction or response to the pandemic.
It’s common to feel depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, and panic, even as things return to normal.
A therapist can help you find healthy coping mechanisms to get your life back on track. Resources are available, and you deserve a helping hand to sort through one of the strangest, hardest, and more brutal times in American history.
Surround yourself with friends, family, and loved ones
As a new normal emerges, we return to socializing with friends, family, and loved ones. There can be a lingering anxiety about socializing in the aftermath of the pandemic.
However, everyone deserves to spend quality time with loved ones. Spending time with friends and family and confiding in them about the pandemic can alleviate stress as you realize it has affected everyone you know and love.
Now, more than ever, socializing with friends and family is essential. Go to that restaurant or park and spend time with those who love you and know you the best (while observing COVID-19 protocols).
Self-soothing activities can bring peace and solace. Getting into a fitness regimen as gyms reopen, cultivating a skincare routine, or simply finding a new hobby can provide much needed solace.
Don’t forget to take a step back and hit reset. Rest and relaxation are essential in the fight against mental health struggles. Neglecting self-care can produce heightened feelings of anxiety and depression.
Self care starts at home. Taking a bath, reading a book, or rewatching your favorite movie can help you relax.
As we face the ramifications of the pandemic, you may be confronted by delayed fear and anxiety. However, self-care can help you get back to yourself.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota