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As upwards of 30% of the US population gets vaccinated, there seems to be light at the end of this tunnel. Even hearing news of a possible conclusion to the pandemic is enough to lift spirits. Optimism, and feelings of excitement for what the future holds, are a welcome reprieve from the events of the past year.
But though we are lucky to be clawing out of this, Covid-19 is likely to have lingering effects long after the physiological symptoms have disappeared. Quarantine, and in general the air of negativity that surrounds the pandemic, have recognizable effects on mental health.
While public health measures are necessary to slow the spread of such a contagious virus, they inadvertently have the effects of an intense stressor. The isolation of quarantine can introduce uncomfortable emotions. A constant, negative media cycle reinforces fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration. When spread was at its peak and no end appeared to be within reach, many experienced changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests. Substance abuse to cope with these feelings, or out of general apathy, is another symptom that sometimes goes overlooked. It’s essential to recognize that these are common reactions, and millions across the country and world have experienced them. Recognizing that these responses are natural and widespread can help when attempting to adequately address them.
The pandemic appears to be easing in its severity as vaccination numbers continue to rise, but the effects of isolation still gnaw at many. Understand that there may not always be an immediate cure to mental health struggles. Mental illness, no matter how mild, is a complicated ailment and requires any number of approaches and strategies, but there’s always a way to achieve relief. Facing these problems, and searching for ways that alleviate stress even a little, are welcome victories that can help get you out of a dark place. Work on the things that you can immediately address first: stretch, exercise, meditate, eat well, and sleep well. Reach out to friends and family members, get outside, and try new hobbies. The CDC has a compiled resources list, if you feel like outside help could be beneficial. Never hesitate to reach out.
Covid-19 is still ravaging many parts of the world. India is the midst of an outbreak of horrific proportions, and with many unable to exercise the privilege of staying home, staying safe, and receiving adequate care, the disease is wreaking havoc. Though seemingly far away, millions are still in the darkest part of this pandemic. Keep them in your thoughts and look for ways to help.