2020 was, in a word, unprecedented.
We entered the year as we did with any other – full of hope and New Year’s resolutions. Once the news began to break about the coronavirus, many Americans dismissed it as being “no worse than the flu” and focused on their plans for the year. Thousands of weddings, events, and concerts were carefully planned and anticipated only to be canceled midway through the year due to social distancing regulations and public business closings. City hotspots were eerily empty for the first time, and all over the world, people were confined to their homes because of the ominous quarantine. For some (particularly those who could work remotely), the quarantine was a refreshing break from everyday life. People were able to spend more time with their children, pets, and hobbies and enjoy their newfound free time.
For others, the COVID quarantine was a terrifying change in routine. Schools were preemptively closed or went online, which posed an issue with childcare. Small businesses built from the ground up by individuals were placed on an indefinite hiatus. Those unlucky enough to be laid off from their jobs are estimated at approximately 8 million in the United States, many losing their health insurance and a steady source of income.
However, one barrier that no one expected had already been neglected before the world shut down. The stigma surrounding mental illness has been prominent in our culture for some time, so it’s not surprising that many of us have forgotten to check in with ourselves.
While a “staycation” is blissful for some, it is a prison for others. Being isolated from friends, family, and colleagues isn’t ideal for those who live with depression. The looming uncertainty in the state of the world can be debilitating to those with anxiety disorders. Even individuals who consider themselves mentally healthy find that the pandemic is taking a serious mental toll. When people find their one safe haven – their homes – no longer provide the same comfort and security as they used to, their mental health is jeopardized.
Being confined to the same four walls for an undetermined amount of time is not the only stressor people face now. The terrifying idea of catching the deadly virus that has put the world at a standstill lingers in the minds of many, not to mention that there appears to be no end in sight. While vaccines are becoming available, some people are wary of their long-term effects.
The mental health of millions has been severely affected in different ways. We must find the time and resources to take care of ourselves and others, but this is not always easy. Confined within the four walls of our home, we don’t think of taking breaks because we are in our comfort place. We don’t worry about getting fresh air because the thought of going outside can be daunting. We don’t even recognize we need these things because we don’t realize that we are in a state of emotional turmoil.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on fear of the unknown. Since the world has not experienced a crisis like this in decades, many of us do not know what to expect for our mental well-being. So, we chalk it up to stress over the state of the world, never considering how being trapped at home, working a full-time job, and taking care of our children is taking a toll on our minds and bodies. We put pressure on ourselves to live and thrive the same way we did before despite being in entirely different circumstances and taking on even more responsibility than we ever have.
Mental health has been widely ignored for decades, and despite being brought to the attention of the media in recent years, it is still heavily stigmatized. Now more than ever, it is vital that people check in with themselves and their emotional states.
About the Author: Lauren Cummings is a freelance content writer and blogger. She is an advocate for mental health and is involved in the fight against the stigma surrounding it.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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