The COVID-19 pandemic has been a mental and emotional drain on just about everyone. When it began over nine months ago, no one imagined that it could take the toll on our lives that it has — and yet, here we are, just weeks away from a new year and many are still struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, and other COVID-induced mental health problems on a daily basis.
In today’s blog from Blair Wellness Group, we would like to take a closer look at why the pandemic has had such an impact on our mental health, how prolonged stress can manifest into other symptoms that can affect physical health, and what you can do to safeguard yourself and to find healthier ways of coping. If you or someone you know is looking for stress management treatment in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, or the surrounding area, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Our Mental Health
Everyone experiences some degree of stress in their daily lives, whether it’s related to a job, relationships, health, or something else. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique set of circumstances that have touched people’s lives on so many levels. In addition to intensifying health fears, for many, the pandemic has changed daily routines, created feelings of isolation, and impacted financial security. Each of these challenges can influence our health, happiness, and well-being — but when experienced in combination, they create a perfect storm for exacerbating widespread mental health problems.
Stress and Mental Health Issues
COVID-19 has created challenges for mental health since it began the better part of a year ago. Most mental health challenges can be attributed to an increase in stress — stress that comes from a fear of the unknown, having had a personal experience with the virus, or possibly losing a job. The effect of these stressors is then magnified by having to deal with them in complete social isolation.
With long term exposure, stress can also lead to serious physical health issues as well as worsen chronic health diseases. Stress has been linked to effects on your body ranging from simple muscle tension and headaches to chest pain and stomach upset. However, its reach is beyond just basic manifestation of short-term symptoms — chronic stress has been linked to serious health issues such as heart disease and high blood pressure, which is why it’s so important to find healthy ways to cope and increase resilience.
Psychological Conditions Heightened By Stress
Stress is at the heart of many mental health disorders. It can worsen symptoms in those with a pre-existing condition, but it can also create new problems for those who are otherwise in good mental health. The following are some examples of the conditions that can be impacted if stress is left unchecked:
People who experience traumatic events such as a life-threatening illness or the death of a loved one are more prone to developing an anxiety disorder. Anxiety not only makes it difficult to perform daily tasks or enjoy the things you once loved, but it can also put you at risk for developing complications such as depression or substance abuse.
It’s normal for everyone to feel down from time to time, but when faced with prolonged stress or traumatic events, depression can lead to substance abuse, eating disorders, feelings of hopelessness, and an overall decline in quality of life.
When people are under extreme stress, they tend to either lose their patience and lash out in anger, or withdraw and deal with their struggles in isolation. Either scenario can be profoundly damaging to relationships. The pandemic has posed additional challenges for those who live in the same household that have been instructed to shelter in place. How you deal with this change in daily life can either strengthen or put a strain on your relationship.
Anger Management Issues
Periods of prolonged stress can make you feel as though your life is out of control. When you don’t have command over some of the most important things in your life, it can make you feel anxious, helpless, and even angry. Having a habit of releasing your anger frequently, and in inappropriate ways, can make your life, and the lives of those around you, even worse.
A common way for many people to distance themselves from the crisis going on around them is to numb their feelings with drugs or alcohol. For those already dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, the additional stress and long periods of social isolation can increase the urge to self-medicate.
Self-Care Strategies for Managing Stress
People deal with stress in many different ways. Some create healthy habits — such as choosing to go for a walk or practicing mindfulness. Others may take a counterproductive approach, such as increasing their dependency on alcohol, which can only intensify the already difficult challenges that one is facing.
Adopting a positive approach to stress management benefits both your mental and physical health. The following are a few practical ways that you can incorporate self-care habits into your daily routine.
- Stay connected with friends and family safely through phone calls, video chat, and social media
- Reduce mental stress by limiting news consumption
- Make sure to get enough sleep
- Practice mindfulness to reduce anxiety and avoid worrying about things that are beyond your control
- Focus on gratitude and appreciation for the good things in your life
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
Stress Management Treatment in Beverly Hills, Irvine, and Newport Beach
Many people hesitate to seek professional help for stress and other mental health problems, hoping they will go away on their own. Unfortunately, this can lead to worsening symptoms and further complications.
At Blair Wellness Group, our patients have multiple weekly one-on-one sessions with a licensed, doctoral-level Clinical Psychologist who is professionally trained and skillfully experienced in stress management treatment, substance abuse, and relationship issues, as well as depression and anxiety disorders. We offer an exclusive variety of holistic treatment methods and various evidence-based treatment modalities to achieve our goal of ensuring that each patient receives the highest standard of quality care.
If you are seeking mental health treatment during these unprecedented times, reach out to us and request an appointment. We offer in-person, telephone, teletherapy, or virtual sessions. Call today at 310.999.4996.