Deanna Roberts Q&A

Do you have any comments about the relationship between mental health and how Covid/the pandemic has impacted our world?

Yes, I believe that as a result of the pandemic and its continuation, individuals are experiencing the need for increased self-care, symptoms of chronic stress, and either general or situational anxiety and depression. These aspects of our mental health require attention and care.

Need for increased self-care. The last year and a half has increased stress for many individuals. Whether it’s because the boundaries between working from home and just being at home were blurred, or there was extra effort required in all of your decision-making for preventing sickness and staying healthy, or you experienced unexpected change or loss, there’s a high probability that you are in need of some increased self-care.

Self-care can be setting boundaries to how you spend your time, developing opportunities where your mind, body, and spirit can simply relax and rest, engaging in an activity that provides personal comfort or enjoyment, or connecting in a social setting with someone who can offer you support. Self-care looks different for different people, but we all need it. On the heels of a challenging year-plus, consider your self-care activities and find ways to prioritize them.

Symptoms of chronic stress. Stress is a part of life, and while we can not expect to move through life without it, we can stay aware of chronic exposure to stress. A season of all-things-Covid increased our stress levels from the time the pandemic began. For most of us it has probably stayed the same or ebbed and flowed since that time. But it’s still there. Maybe you experienced unfortunate changes at your job or lost your job entirely. Maybe you graduated, moved, or went through some other big life transition and typical supports were not as readily available. Maybe you witnessed a family member fight sickness or even lost someone you love. Stress has been experienced pervasively and chronically by many during this unique time. Clinically, we understand that chronic stress can have an impact on our well-being in subtle and salient ways, spiraling us into negative thinking, potentially causing physical ailments, and stealing from the ability to find true rest. Chronic stress requires consistent stress management. It’s important to pay attention to our bodies and minds and care for them in order to alleviate stress and its accompanying symptoms. Most likely, you can identify the stressors you have experienced over the course of this pandemic. Some of them may still be persisting today. Make sure you are attending to the impact of chronic stress on your life and working actively to either care for it, manage it, or reduce it in the ways that you can.

Experiences of anxiety and depression. Whether you are an individual who has had a history of anxiety and depression, or not, you might recognize how significant changes in our environment and circumstances can impact your mood. Both anxiety and depression can manifest mentally, emotionally, and physically, causing a host of symptoms such as: worrisome or negative thoughts; feelings of nervousness, loneliness, or sadness; or unwanted sensations in our bodies like a rapid breathing or heart rate, restlessness, and exhaustion. Do any of these sound familiar when it comes to your experience during this pandemic? Sometimes we are not fully aware of how circumstances have impacted us until later, and for many individuals there are either new or lingering experiences of anxiety and depression as a result of the difficulties of this season. It’s never too late to reach out and get help, and it’s always a good time to evaluate your mental health needs and potentially take the first step towards getting support.

Deanna Roberts, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT 


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