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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world works. It has also transformed how people manage their mental health and the social connections they maintain with one another.
Ultimately, COVID-19 can cause fear and panic, to the point where it hampers an individual’s mental wellness. In addition, COVID-19 can lead people to shy away from social settings.
A clear understanding of COVID-19 and its potential impact on mental health and social connection is key. Those who understand the possible mental health and social effects of COVID-19 can plan accordingly. They can take steps to manage their mental health and maintain positive social connections.
How Can COVID-19 Impact Mental Health and Social Connection?
There is a direct correlation between COVID-19 and stress. Typically, stress is normal. Stress occurs due to the body’s response to difficult situations or life events.
Stress can make the COVID-19 pandemic seem impossible to handle. At this point, an individual can experience stress that contributes to depression and anxiety. Also, stress can contribute to headaches, nausea, and other physical health issues.
Unfortunately, stress does not disappear on its own. Stress is an ongoing problem, and people must learn how to manage it appropriately. Those who try to ignore the symptoms of stress may find these issues worsen over time. The symptoms can even reach a point where they make it tough for people to feel and perform their best at home, work, and school. They can drive people to isolate themselves from their family members and friends, too.
Safety concerns persist surrounding COVID-19 and continue to evolve. Over the past few months, the Delta and Omicron variants have been problematic, causing many people to rethink their stance on COVID-19.
While COVID-19 vaccines are generally available, uncertainties exist about myriad variants. These uncertainties have caused stress for people who want to protect themselves and their loved ones against infection. They have led some people to forgo social events due to safety concerns relating to the variants. The result: these individuals may miss out on opportunities to foster social connections.
How to Manage Mental Health and Maintain Social Connections During the Pandemic
Managing mental health and maintaining social connections during the pandemic requires commitment. With a steady approach, an individual can guard against stress and associated mental health issues. This individual can keep the lines of communication open with family members and friends too.
Now, let’s look at five tips to manage mental health and maintain social connections during the pandemic.
1. Establish a Healthy Diet
Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. A healthy diet helps an individual guard against malnutrition and boost their mood. Along with a healthy diet, exercise daily. Walking, yoga, and other activities allow an individual to increase the production of endorphins (aka “feel-good hormones”) in the brain.
Moreover, virtual cooking classes and exercise events can be beneficial. For instance, an individual can engage in video chats with family members and share their favorite healthy meal recipes. Or, an individual can participate in virtual road races that promote physical activity. These events encourage social connection, and they can help people feel their best.
2. Get Sufficient Rest
Enjoy at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Insomnia can crop up due to pandemic-related stress, also colloquially called “Coronasomnia.” Without sufficient rest, an individual’s stress levels may continue to rise. This individual is prone to fatigue, depression, and other health problems as well.
Create a comfortable sleep environment. Ideally, a bedroom should have a cozy bed and other accommodations that help an individual relax. An individual should also turn off any electronics or other potential distractions before bedtime. That way, he or she can focus on what’s most important: getting adequate rest.
3. Seek Out Support from Loved Ones
Connect with loved ones and communicate with them regularly. For example, an individual can schedule weekly video chats with family members. These chats let family members engage with each other and provide updates, as well as opportunities to support one another.
Support loved ones in any way possible. Remember, an individual’s mental health can have far-flung effects on a loved one who is hospitalized due to COVID-19. In this scenario, the individual can provide support to their loved one as he or she copes with COVID-19., and can ultimately help their loved one get through the infection.
4. Avoid Substance Abuse
Resist the urge to use drugs or alcohol to cope with pandemic-related stress. People can feel vulnerability due to COVID-19. This can lead to stress and a drug or alcohol addiction. If people become dependent on illicit substances, they can suffer severe mental and physical harm.
Those who are concerned about becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol to cope with stress should pursue help. Meet with a doctor to explore safe, healthy ways to manage stress. People can also seek out support groups for help with substance abuse.
5. Consult with a Doctor
Do not let COVID-19 continuously affect life. Instead, consult with a doctor to discuss any mental and social concerns relating to COVID-19. The doctor can determine if their patient is healthily coping with stress or other mental and physical health problems. This doctor can then provide their patient with a personalized diagnosis and treatment.
Lastly, stay persistent to combat the mental and social side effects of COVID-19. The pandemic is a struggle for everyone. Yet those who reflect on the pandemic and learn from it will be well-equipped to manage their overall wellbeing.
The Bottom Line on Mental Health and Social Connection During the Pandemic
Mental health and social connection are tenets of everyday life. The pandemic forced people to change the way they live. As a result, many individuals have experienced mental health problems due to COVID-19. These individuals are also susceptible to isolation, which may cause them to avoid social interactions.
Be diligent in regards to mental health and social connection during the pandemic. Keep an eye out for any signs of mental health issues. At the first signs of these issues, seek out help. Then, an individual can take appropriate steps to manage their well-being now and in the future.