By Colin Murphy
October 13, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. From June 24th to the 30th, the CDC reports that U.S. adults reported mental health conditions in higher numbers due to COVID-19.
Mental health has become a very large focus in today’s world as so much is going on and we as humans have less time to sit down and think. Mental health can be defined in many different ways, but the World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as an integral and essential component of health.
The WHO Constitution states “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
An important inference you can make from this definition is that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.
The WHO also states that “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Because of the pandemic, people with depression, anxiety, and many different types of anxiety have been dealing with exacerbated forms of their mental health disorders from being confined to their homes. Sitting alone with their own thoughts can cause people with anxiety to begin having terrible panic attacks or even a rise in stress levels. Panic attacks make people feel as though it is hard to breathe and their heart begins to race. Quarantine has caused people with anxiety to have nearly double the occurrences of panic attacks as they have not been out of their home to distract themselves in months.
People with depression also have the same issue with sitting at home. Hours on end, stuck in a house, cause people with depression to sit and think about everything in their life. Whether it is positive or not, people who struggle to find the positives in their life often head towards a place of sadness. Distractions are hard to find at home after being enclosed by the same four walls for more than seven hours a day. Social isolation is already a cause for depression, however, now each and everybody in the United States is isolating at home in hopes COVID-19 will pass.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the suicide rates for 2020 nearly doubled each month of quarantine starting in April of 2020.
As the suicide rate grows throughout quarantine, managing our mental health at home during social isolation is an important conversation that needs to be addressed. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends five key tips in order to help maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage your mental health through self isolation.
“Reframe ‘I am stuck inside’ to ‘I can finally focus on my home and myself’”
This is an opportunity to refocus your attention from the outside world and all going on, to the internal. By making sure you do one productive thing per day, you can lead your personality towards a more positive attitude. By approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck, you will only stress yourself out more.
“Stay close to your normal routine”
Try to follow your normal routine as close as possible. Eat at the same time as you would on a normal day and exercise as much as possible. By doing this, it will not only keep you active and less likely to spiral, but it will make it much easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.
“A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind”
By saying this, the ADAA is implying that with all going on outside the home, keep the inside organized. Have a work zone and set up mental zones. For example, don’t eat in bed, don’t work in bed, or even don’t eat at your work desk.
“Start a new quarantine ritual”
In other words, start something new. Find a new hobby or something safe to do at home such as tie-dye or sewing.
While quarantining after a trip, or sitting at home to stay safe and COVID-free during these stressful times, remember to take a break. Sit back and relax. Focus on your mental health by keeping a positive mindset.