Perhaps no event in recent history affected the mental health of more people across the globe than the COVID-19 pandemic. Research published in late 2021 in the medical journal The Lancet indicated that cases of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders increased by more than 25 percent worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the world emerges from the pandemic and governments around the globe gradually implement measures designed to make coexisting with COVID-19 less restrictive, mental health professionals recognize that individuals may need help recovering from the prolonged stress and trauma brought about by the pandemic.
Locally, BestSelf Behavioral Health therapists recommend various strategies that are endorsed by Mental Health America (an organization committed to promoting mental health as a critical component of overall wellness), to help individuals move forward in the aftermath of the pandemic.
- Recognize that recovery can’t be rushed. Individuals need to give themselves time to adjust, noting that it will take time before a sense of safety and security returns. That means it could be a while before individuals feel like themselves again, and that’s not only acceptable, but normal.
- Ask for help. The pandemic was proof that it is impossible to go it alone through difficult situations, so individuals should not hesitate to rely on loved ones as they recover. It is important to know that social support is crucial when healing from trauma, as well as the value of sharing your story. Sharing stories enables individuals to process their thoughts and feelings.
- Embrace healthy behaviors. During the pandemic, many individuals, even those devoted to healthy living prior to 2020, found it difficult to continue engaging in behaviors and activities that promoted their overall health. Embracing these behaviors, which can include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep, improves individuals’ ability to cope with stress. Re-establishing old routines also can return a sense of structure to daily life that might have gone missing over the last two years.
- Seek professional health care help if necessary. Individuals who are putting in the work toward adopting a healthier and happier mindset, but who are still struggling, should contact a health care professional. It is important to realize that you are not alone. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have had to confront issues affecting their mental health since the start of the pandemic. Locally and nationally health care professionals are now prepared and ready to help individuals overcome many of these issues as the world begins to return to pre-pandemic life.