I think I can speak for many when I say the past year has been rough. Online school, mass amounts of deadlines, and fat stacks of homework were not it for most college kids. If anything, it has led many people to feel high levels of stress, lack of motivation, and sadness. Mental health is especially important in everyday life, but the pandemic seemed to exacerbate these aspects since we were stuck inside for almost a year… but to what extent has our mental health suffered?
The Mental Health Awareness Month is here so let’s acknowledge what we went through and encourage others to share their feelings.
A rise in depression and anxiety
Researchers have found large sets of connections between changes in mental health in response to the coronavirus. The devastation of the pandemic comes with millions of deaths, the economic struggle among many other factors — that have already made their effect on people’s mental status. Researchers worldwide are actively investigating the causes and effects of this stress, and whether it is going to last or subside as the pandemic does. Scientists are hoping to accumulate more data to aid in the betterment of people’s well-being and how to deal with it in the case of a future pandemic. Sociologist James Nazroo at the University of Manchester, UK says “This is ambitious science,” According to the US Census report from December, more than 42% of people surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety or depression with an increase from 11% the previous year. Data from other surveys suggest similarities worldwide These findings are alarming and it just goes to show that more people are struggling than not.
One of the most commonly asked questions, aside from the academic, is “how do I cope with depression and anxiety?” While everyone copes differently, here are some common methods that may help:
- Getting a lot of sleep. The health benefits of sleep include a healthier heart, reduced stress, and improved memory among other factors.
- Maintaining a healthy diet or having things in moderation can help to elevate your mood and overall well-being.
- Spending more time outdoors is linked to stress reduction, boost in energy, improvements in focus, and not to mention, getting a good dose of Vitamin D. Try spending at least 10 minutes a day outside by yourself (or with others) and see if you notice a difference!
- Talking to someone you trust. Whether that’s a therapist, your best friend, or even your pet, never let your emotions bottled up to the point of burnout. There are various resources online and plenty of support groups should you choose to look into it.
- Avoid excess amounts of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug-related substances. This can ensure that you keep your mind clear as well as maintaining a healthy body.
No one should ever feel like they’re alone or having no one to talk to. Depression and anxiety are real mental illnesses that many struggles with every day. I know from first-hand experience, dealing with anxiety during the pandemic has been extremely difficult to socialize and feel motivated. As the mask mandates become lifted, there is still some paranoia… I must admit. But I am excited for society to go back to normal again. Or at least a new normal.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, or any kind of mental illness, visit the national hotline www.samhsa.gov.