Anniversaries are challenging for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. On the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing a wide range of emotions. Quarantine has forced us into social isolation, separating us from family and friends. It is safe to say it has undoubtedly taken a toll on our mental health.
With every U.S. adult becoming eligible for vaccination by May 1, there is hope on the horizon. Yet, many of us continue to suffer from the collective depression, anxiety, and trauma of living through a global pandemic. As we pass the one-year mark of quarantine, it’s important to check in with yourself and others to stay mentally healthy.
Checking In With Yourself
Experts recommend checking in with your mental health at least once a week during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s important to check in with all the components that make up our physical and mental health, including our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The Black Dog Institute offers a free worksheet you can use to check in with your mental health weekly.
Alternatively, you can also use a daily check-in schedule. Well + Good recommends asking yourself five important questions to check in with your mental health every day:
- How am I feeling today?
- What is taking up most of my thoughts?
- When did I last eat?
- How tired am I?
- What can I do today that will bring me joy?
If you’re seriously concerned about your mental health, you can use a free screening tool from Mental Health America to determine if you could benefit from some serious professional help. They offer many free screening tests, including ones for depression and anxiety.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health
If you’re struggling with your mental health during the pandemic — whether that’s a diagnosable mental health concern or increased stress — there are a few things you can do to help yourself feel better:
- Talk to someone: Whether it’s a professional or a loved one, we can all benefit from opening up to someone about our emotions.
- Stay active: Exercise is known to be an effective antidepressant – it releases endorphins and boosts your mood.
- Eat well: Our physical health impacts our mental health – and when we eat better, we feel better, too.
- Drink less: It’s important to avoid using alcohol to cope with the pandemic.
- Slow down: You might find yourself being less productive or needing more breaks than usual. That’s okay — embrace it!
Checking In With Others
Many of us have or have had serious concerns about our loved ones in quarantine. Since social support is so important to our mental health, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with friends and family — and to ask them how they’re feeling. Here’s how you can check in with a loved one’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Ask your loved ones if they want to talk about how they’re doing. Sometimes, they may not want to, and that’s okay. Simply asking will let them know that you’re there to listen if and when they are ready to talk.
- Listen to what they have to say. Don’t feel the need to fill every moment of silence, and don’t make the conversation about you. Ask plenty of questions and use active listening skills, like making eye contact or using words of agreement to show you care.
- Support them no matter what. However they are feeling, don’t hit them with toxic positivity or tell them to “snap out of it.” If they need additional support, don’t be afraid to help them find it.