As of 2022, the world has officially entered the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With constantly changing lockdown rules, fluctuating transmission speeds and new variants popping up, it can be hard to see the future as anything but catastrophic.
Our negative feelings about the future and the associated depression and anxiety are legitimate, but it can help to remember that they may not accurately reflect reality. By focusing on the positives and leveraging mental health services and self-help practices, we can do a lot to manage these feelings as we prepare for an uncertain—but hopefully less confusing—future.
When an event as widespread and traumatic as the COVID-19 pandemic occurs, it is: Effects persevere well after the first outbreak. Humans are a social species, so it’s been a tough time for most of us, for many different reasons.
The truth is that it can take years for many of us to fully recover mentally. Experts advise recognizing the silver lining – the universal aspect of the pandemic has improved mental health awareness, making help and treatment accessible to more people.
Become more resilient
Another benefit of the pandemic is that more people feel better equipped to face future challenges. respondents on a Cleveland Clinic questionnaire reported that the pandemic made them feel more empathetic towards others and increased their desire to help other people.
Many people also discovered new, positive coping behaviors that help them cope with future stress and anxiety.
Learning to deal with an uncertain future
While many people feel that the pandemic has made them more resilient, it’s still completely natural to feel lost when they think about the future. As our individual situations change, so can our feelings about COVID and the future.
It can help to focus on specific, important aspects of our lives, Like it physical and mental healthand making a conscious effort to change our negative thinking, by setting limits on how heavily we allow the pandemic to seep into our lives.
Improve physical health
Our mental and physical health are deep intertwined† Depression and anxiety can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, but a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle contribute to these mental health problems, creating a vicious circle for some.
Get enough sleep and participate in regular physical activity. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, as they can reinforce negative coping habits and decrease positive coping skills.
Stop Doom Scrolling
Eliminating stressors is an important part of coping with an uncertain future. While social media can be a great source of companionship, it also quickly becomes a source of negativity and anxiety. People who consider themselves “doom scrolling” should take a pause from their social media feeds.
While this can be difficult, experts recommend starting by avoiding “catastrophizing.” Essentially, the mind jumps from scenario A to outcome Z, even though most situations from B to Y are unlikely. Acknowledging this is the first step to stopping the behavior.
One of the most important parts of a strong coping strategy is setting boundaries. All that “extra” time can cause you to take on too much, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes it comes from the top: more people are working from home and some companies are trying to increase the workload, justifying this with the now obsolete travel time and other factors. It is important to prevent the work from seeping too heavily into personal time.
In addition, technological advancements ensure that we are never far from the latest news update. However, excessive media consumption has direct links to feelings of anxiety and problems such as depression and anxiety. Take the time to block the constant stream of updates and live in the moment.
Self-care and prioritization
One of the biggest hurdles in managing mental health is knowing where to start. Set aside 10 minutes a day to perform a mind, body, feeling scan. In each category, write down what you need most.
For example, a body that feels restless may need fresh air and exercise. A mind that wanders may need a break and time to focus. Rank each problem and prioritize That that will have the biggest impact. Often these issues overlap, and managing a few will benefit them all.
Connect with others
Sickness, lockdowns and changing work environments have the feeling of insulation and loneliness over the world. Find time every day to text, call or video chat with friends or family.
Vaccinated people who take precautions can safely return to many indoor and outdoor activities that the pandemic previously made impossible. Plus, in moments of resilience, it can be helpful to act as a mainstay for someone in need of help — as long as you make sure you don’t take on too much responsibility for them.
Seek help if needed
Sometimes self-help is not enough and it may be necessary to reach from to another person. While a mental health professional should treat clinical conditions such as depression and anxiety, not everyone has access to professional care.
Speaking to close friends and loved ones can help, although some people prefer to seek comfort from a spiritual leader or someone in their faith community. Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Health or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America have opportunities for outreach and can also offer advice.
Reasons for hope
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While experts think COVID is likely here nasty to stay, they also believe it won’t be long before we can see it as the flu. At certain times of the year it might be something to worry about, but getting vaccinated and wearing masks will keep most people completely safe.