The calendar turned to August over the weekend and we now entered month eight we have been dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 in the United States. I am no longer afraid or ashamed to admit COVID-19 is impacting my mental state.
For some, the breaking point happened sooner. Others are yet to feel the impacts while some may never feel it. Either way, I am not liking the tricks COVID-19 is playing on not only mind, but my family and members of our community.
From emotional, to financial, to feelings of just being uncomfortable, this virus pretty much stinks at all levels.
Admittingly, for several months, I felt fine as I was in the mental state of social distancing, wear a mask, and stay home whenever possible. Maybe I was ignoring the impacts, but felt like I was in a groove between work and keeping up with phone calls while staying busy. But then it happened, I realized I finally missed creating new memories with family and being around people. I miss meeting people for coffee, lunch meetings, birthday parties, celebrations, attending events, having a beer in a bar, or, most importantly, just being able to take my wife out on a date without a care in the world.
Sure, you may do some of these things, but with a mask and proper social distancing. Well, I am over that. I do not want to wear a mask and avoid contact, I want to see people smile again, slap high fives, give handshakes and for those that want them, a hug. This “new normal” is painful and makes me sad. The “new normal” is actually not normal.
Of course, while I hate this social distancing and mask wearing, I will 110% continue to practice it because it is simply the right thing to do.
In fact, the sooner we all do it, the sooner we can go back to normal. We all need to re-frame why we are doing it, to protect ourselves and others. It is not only the right thing to do, but its also a courtesy to others. Think about stopping at a stop sign, we wave and let the other person go through – a mask and social distancing should be the same. If you opt against wearing a mask, fine, but at least make more of an effort to social distance out of respect to others.
The first step in solving any problem when it comes to mental health is recognizing there is one. There is plenty of information on the internet, but after speaking to several mental health professionals, they assure me what I am feeling is normal and will pass but warned there are good days and there are bad days. That made me feel much better.
So I figured I would out myself as someone feeling the mental impacts of this virus, perhaps it may help others who are feeling the same–at least that is my hope.
According to the CDC, Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
The CDC also provides healthy ways to cope with stress
- Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.
- Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
- Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
For more resources, UCSF has also provided some nice resources.
As we continue to deal with the yo-yo effects of the virus and the government health officials continue to change the rules of what we can or cannot do it seems by the week, I would urge everyone to seek some sort of outlet and put effort into building greater relationships. Turn off the main stream media news. And lastly, its time we all begin to practice kindness.
Right now, with everything going on in the world, kindness matters. Lets start there.
Mental Health: There is always someone to speak with
If you need to speak with someone, the most readily available being the Contra Costa Crisis Center 925-939-1916. The Crisis Center has a crisis hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Or speak to a local counselor.
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