We have all felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. From our favorite workout studio or gym closing its doors to learning how to work remotely, many of our usual routines were interrupted. As we overcome these challenges, begin to reopen businesses, and start to gather again, we will enjoy many of our old daily habits. However, it is important to accept that things will not simply return to “normal.” There will be lasting effects of this outbreak that may affect us for years to come.
One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, which includes a host of different conditions that vary from mild to severe. The psychological effects of isolation and social distancing may affect us differently but can have lasting implications for those who are already battling mental illness. If you know someone who may be more vulnerable to long-term negative psychological effects of the COVID-19 precautions, here are three ways you can support:
- Continue to Check in
Take the time to genuinely ask your loved ones how they are doing. Adjusting to life during the pandemic was not easy and adjusting to life after the worst of it is over will not be easy either. Continue to check in on your loved ones and offer a trusted space for honest conversation. Affirm how your loved ones are feeling and let them know it is OK to still feel down even if life around us seems to be getting back in gear. There is no timeline to your feelings.
- Show Acts of Kindness
Support someone who is feeling low by showing them small acts of kindness to brighten their day and letting them know you are thinking of them. Write a postcard and drop it in the mail or send a surprise like flowers or a fun picture frame with a favorite memory. Maybe you notice a co-worker is feeling down, so bring a cup of coffee to their desk one morning. A small gesture can go a long way in lifting someone’s spirits.
- Encourage Exercise
Physical activity helps release feel-good endorphins and can be a great way to beat the blues. Set up a reoccurring time each week to exercise with your loved one(s). Not only will it help hold each of you be accountable, but it can be something fun to look forward to during particularly challenging days. If you don’t live near each other, try tuning in to the same virtual workout class or video call one another and exercise together virtually!
Remember, in difficult times like this, it is more important than ever to take good care of yourself and your loved ones. If you or someone you know is really struggling with this, seek help now. Call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.