There is no question that this year’s coronavirus lockdowns have had a profound global impact on mental health. According to the CDC : “symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019”.
Now that experts predict a second wave this winter, coupled with cold and flu season, there’s a valid reason to be concerned about another mental health crisis. A recent article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) stated that : “A second wave of devastation is imminent, attributable to mental health consequences of COVID-19.”
When the only certain thing is uncertainty, taking measures to lessen the impact on the mental health system and our mental health is critical. We also need to learn how to live with it without feeling like we’re on house arrest and realize that we don’t need to put our life on hold until all this is over.
Individual responses to the stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are unique and varied and depend on various factors, including any support systems, a person’s physical health, finances, and even their cultural background. How we take care of our stress and mental health can make a world of difference in potential outcomes.
Self-care is essential for mental health and is especially important during unprecedented times like these.
Pandemic fatigue and insomnia are real, so keeping a routine and making an intentional effort to go to bed at a decent hour and get a good night’s rest can be instrumental in maintaining good emotional health.
Getting regular exercise will not only boost your physical health but lower your stress level as well. You can still go out for solo or socially distanced walks with a friend, and many gyms are still open with necessary precautions.
A healthy diet will also have a positive impact on your emotional well-being. Now is the time to try out those healthy recipes you’ve been pinning on Pinterest or browsing on the internet.
The news coverage these days can be enough to overwhelm anyone. Sometimes just turning off the T.V or staying off of social media for a while can give you a much-needed respite.
If we can take any lessons from the first COVID-19 shutdowns, we would learn from our experiences. Learning to identify stress and what triggers it enables us to be proactive in practicing coping skills.
Another method of handling stress and emotions comes in the form of wearable technology. Feel’s wristband has built-in biosensors that continuously monitor a person’s physiological signals to detect patterns. This device can help people understand their emotional triggers and how to manage them. It’s also vital to learn to recognize when we need help so that we’re able to reach out for support.
With the prediction of the second wave of COVID-19, we may be in for a long winter and beyond. Even though people are “over it” and longing to get back to pre-COVID status, there is every indication that the virus will be around for a long time. This means accepting our new reality and making the most out of it, even though that seems unimaginable at times.
Given that the COVID-19 is being worked into everyday life from mask fashion to integrating the pandemic into sitcoms, it’s looking like masks and social distancing protocols will be around for a while. So how do we manage when it seems like there is no end in sight?
From business to everyday life, there are things we can do to make COVID-19 a part of our reality without forfeiting our emotional health. Adjusting to a new situation is never easy, but developing a coping mindset can be the answer to surviving what will be our new way of life for a while.
Adjusting to a new way of life because of a contagious illness is nothing new. During the 1918 influenza pandemic, many countries, including the US, outlawed large public gatherings, canceled school, and required masks and other protective gear in certain situations. During the summer and early fall months before a vaccine became available for polio, public pools were often closed, and children had isolated playtime. In some instances, schools were also closed, and students had to do distance learning old-school style- via the radio.
Today, we have the technology and resources to make having to stay at home a little more bearable. You can take a virtual tour of a museum from the comfort of your home. You can host a virtual holiday gathering of family and friends. Major broadway productions have been streamed online during the pandemic, and many new movie releases have gone direct-to-digital. Working remotely is becoming the new norm as more and more companies are adopting flexible workplace policies due to COVID-19.
If you are a parent with distance-learning kids, there are many safe, virtual options to explore: online classes just for kids, drawing tutorials on YouTube, and educational games, just to name a few. It’s also a great time to implement family game nights with some classic board games.
Adjusting expectations to match the current reality is another essential element to preserving your peace. Adjustment looks different for everyone, and having patience with yourself and being flexible is necessary, as is focusing on what can be done rather than what can not.
Seeking help is hard for many people, and during a time where businesses have shut down, it is even more difficult to obtain services. The pandemic’s bright side is that it has created a demand for virtual therapy and emotional support, enabling many to access the help they need without having to leave their home.
The Feel Relief program offers mental health support in the form of a four-week, fully remote program that includes online resources to manage stress, an app to journal emotions, and weekly virtual sessions with qualified coaches. The program was created as part of our efforts to develop digital biomarkers and therapeutics to bring objective, passive, and continuous measurement and data to reinvent the way we diagnose, manage, and care for mental health.
Maintaining emotional well-being has never been more crucial. Thanks to digital therapeutic technology, and a world of virtual options, we don’t have to choose between our mental health and staying safe during the second wave of COVID-19.
 “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13-Aug-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm. [Accessed: 24-Oct-2020].
 N. M. Simon, G. N. Saxe, and C. R. Marmar, “Mental Health Disorders Related to COVID-19–Related Deaths,” Jama, vol. 324, no. 15, p. 1493, 2020.