Updated: Mar 8
COVID, social distancing, quarantining and anything else related and in between have now been around for an entire year and counting. Whoa! Can you believe that?? Feels like it’s been going on forever, but yet some days it feels like it started yesterday! Having to live with this “new normal” for a substantial amount of time brought me to thinking about how much has changed in the mental health world.
Throughout this experience I’ve noticed some trends in mental health. I’ve witnessed certain phenomena through my own experiences, with my clients, friends, family, the community, social media, etc. I decided to write this blog to help normalize what a lot of us are thinking, worrying, questioning, or may feel like we can’t discuss. There is something extremely powerful in knowing we aren’t alone in our thoughts and it helps us realize not to judge ourselves for having these thoughts. Here is some of what I have gathered.
Common Anxieties about all things related to COVID that people aren’t talking about:
If we had social anxiety before the pandemic, then quarantining was a dream…or it started out as one anyway. We enjoyed staying away from people and having even less interaction with them. Or we could be on the other end of the spectrum, where we started out as a social butterfly, or just enjoyed company from time to time. We may start to notice ourselves becoming a little more anxious when we are transitioning back into a little bit more of socializing. It makes sense though. We’ve spent most of our days at home, in our safe little bubble, where we could control more things. Now that we can get out a little more, we notice ourselves having to ease ourselves back in. It feels uncomfortable and weird.
Nothing to look forward to.
Living in a place with lots of outdoor activities like festivals and parades can be fun and exciting. Now that many of those things are cancelled or postponed, we feel a sense of emptiness. Quite often, we don’t even know what we are feeling but we do know that we feel like something is missing.
Guilt related to mask wearing.
Does wearing a mask help protect me or someone else? Is it required or is it not? I feel shamed for not wearing one, I feel shamed for wearing one. I feel judged feeling one way or the other. Because there are so many conflicting views, more so lately, with pretty much everything, we get confused by what we should be doing and what is right….and even…what we believe personally.
Guilty feelings also related to social gatherings.
Certain restrictions were lifted, rules are changing constantly. Not only is it hard to keep up with what rules to follow, it is also hard for us to keep up with our own feelings and opinions related to social gatherings. As we are starting to get invites to weddings, birthdays, and other gatherings, we wonder what events are safe to go to and what are not? What is the right thing to do…politely decline the invite or go and feel uncomfortable the entire time?
Hyper-focusing on our thoughts/worries.
Because we have more time at home, our minds start wondering. We are also reminded of so many things of the past. We have so many more emotions and feelings going through us. We have more time to actually hear our thoughts and worries…which, can sometimes be a recipe for disaster if we don’t handle them in a healthy way. Who remembers during actual lockdown for those couple of months last year at the very beginning of all this? After the excitement of being home and off of work, we became super bored and even super sad and anxious.
Always alone or never alone.
If you live alone, then during this time, you really feel LONELY. Pre-pandemic, this may not have been a big deal, but during a pandemic you may feel more of that sense of loneliness. It’s not like we had many opportunities to make up for living alone by filling up that free time with festivals, activities, etc. On the opposite end, we could be someone who lives with a spouse, family members, roommates, etc. They are just as much in a pandemic as we are, so everyone is stuck together under one household. This can cause tension when we feel trapped and are not having enough alone time or time away from them.
Most things are unfamiliar.
It’s hard to get that full grasp on anything familiar. Weddings aren’t the same, schools aren’t the same, holidays aren’t the same…even funerals aren’t the same.
So much confusion and not sure who to trust.
With so much going on in politics, the government, social media, etc. it’s hard to know where or whom to turn to for facts, advice, etc. We see so many conflicting things regarding almost every subject that we aren’t sure who to trust or rely on.
Indecisive with our feelings.
With listing all those points above; I think it can be difficult to even pinpoint how or what we are feeling. There are SOOO many feelings.
(Annnnd I think I will choose to not even bother mentioning the overconsumption of food and the weight gain. There’s no need for me to talk about that, we all know it happened, it’s happening…whatever.)
There’s no doubt about it – this whole pandemic brought on lots of anxiety, stress, etc. Let’s talk about the positive things that are coming out of this.
Positive results that came out of the pandemic:
Having more time to reflect.
Picking up new and different hobbies.
Seeing first-hand what we can live without.
Spending more time with family and friends (and gaining greater appreciation).
Learning different ways to communicate with each other.
Less time in our vehicle and in traffic.
More time in comfortable clothes and elastic waist bands!
More resources available (online schooling, jobs that are remote, etc.).
Saving money on food, drinks, travel, in-person shopping.
Spending more time outside and in nature.
So, with all this being said, my hope is for you to not feel so alone in your thoughts and worries related to this pandemic time. This is something we have never experienced before in our lives, so it is common to have some uncomfortable feelings. Be kind to yourself during the difficult times.
Earlier in the pandemic, I wrote a blog about decreasing some of your pandemic anxieties, which still apply today. Click here to read more about it.
Remember that you are not alone in this, and there are professionals, like myself, available to help you get through this. If you are experiencing some of these anxieties and are not sure how to cope with them, you can contact me here and we can set up an appointment. These anxieties are manageable and you CAN get through this.