It is hard to conceive that COVID-19 came into our lives almost 3 years ago. The pandemic impacted the world in an unprecedented way. Because of this ongoing stress, and even trauma, people are being forced to look at their mental health like never before. From the start of the pandemic up to today, mental health providers have seen an increase in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems in new and prospective clients. As the lasting effects of the pandemic continue to linger and we are forced into a “new normal”, it is time to ask: When did you last take a look at your mental health?

COVID-19 was unique in that, in some way, it impacted every single person on earth. Even though it is not on the news everyday like it once was, for many of us, it’s impacts continue to linger. Some of us may be coping with grief from losing loved ones, be feeling anxious about the state of the world, or feeling lonely as a lot of the world has stayed virtual. For some, working from home is now the standard, and many people continue to feel isolated. It is normal for all of us to have mental health responses to the ongoing consequences of the pandemic.

Let’s look at some recommendations for ways to take care of your mental health in our “new normal”:

1. Schedule time with friends and loved ones in advance. As many things are still virtual, it is important to ensure face to face time with those you care about. Scheduling this in advance will give you something to look forward to.

2. Spend time outside enjoying nature, especially before the weather gets too cold!

3. Try something new! Is there an activity or hobby you have been interested in but been putting off? Start to collect the materials and begin to learn something new.

4. When you start to feel overwhelmed, try putting your phone away and limiting screen time. Sometimes, the simple act of stepping away from our phones can bring a lot of relief.

5. Remember to drink a lot of water and try to eat fruits and vegetables everyday. Even though it feels difficult, make an effort to get 6-8 hours of sleep.

6. If you are coping with grief, look for a local support group. There are even specific ones for those who lost loved ones to the pandemic.

Remember, even though the pandemic is not our everyday discussion like it once was, many of us continue to feel it’s effects. This is normal, and if you feel like you need more support, reach out to us or another counselor near you!

Isabella Bruner, M. Ed.