Mental Health in the Pandemic

Author: Lorena Canales González

The human being is a routine man. Some say that this is how we are by nature, others say that we have learned it over the years. Until a little over a year ago, our day to day consisted of the routine that we had established unconsciously or consciously; performing daily the actions that brought us closer and closer to the path we wanted to take. Although some people were not satisfied with their daily routine, most of us were used to it.

On March 13, 2020, everything changed. The world took a 180 degree turn and our routine had to stop and/or change suddenly. Those of us who worked had to stop working. Those of us who studied stopped studying; the children stopped going to the park; the travelers had to return to their homes. The economic income ceased to be an income and the security we had, suddenly became our greatest insecurity. In addition, we had to completely isolate ourselves from our social circle, avoiding hugs, talks, meetings and physical contact.

Most of our personal areas (work, family, spiritual, professional, etc) were affected in different ways thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, some in a positive way and some in a negative way. However, no matter how they were affected, all of these areas had a direct impact on our mental health.

The factors that have the most impact on our mental health are the following:

  • Loneliness and isolation.
  • Loss and grief
  • Domestic and family violence
  • Bullying
  • Unemployment or loss of business.
  • Sleep problems
  • Alcohol and/or drug use.
  • Stages of life such as: pregnancy, childhood years, changing schools or cities, adulthood and everything that comes with it, among others.

Taking these factors into account, we can see that from one day to the next we face most of them worldwide. Regardless of the age, gender or race of the person, the mental health of the majority of the population was affected during the year 2020 - 2021.

The first question we asked yesterday was how has your experience been with this topic? Most people answered that their mental health was negatively affected, arousing anxiety, fear and deep sadness, especially in the beginning. I believe that today we live in a society where it is increasingly difficult for us to introspect and get to know ourselves, since we are surrounded by stimuli and distractions that prevent us from doing so.

At the moment the isolation and social distancing began, circumstances forced us to have the time to sit down and think about everything that we had not wanted to think about. It forced us to confront ourselves with unidentified emotions, with stored grudges, with unexpressed forgiveness; as well as forcing us to discover everything that makes us who we are, everything we enjoy and everything we can contribute to the world. It reminded us that there are always two polarities: where there are problems there are solutions, where there is pain there is love. It is a question of us making the decision about where to put our energy. One of the answers we got to that question was, “complicated at first, but now better than ever”. I think we need to work on putting our energy into that polarity. Although it costs us a lot of work, and it is very easy to let our emotions control us, we have the opportunity to introspect and work from within.Heal all those pains that we carry, coexist and discover stories about the people with whom we live, do more of what we like and makes us feel at peace, and above all, thank our health and the fact that we have been able to fight the pandemic

Another of the questions we asked was what do you feel about the issue of mental health in the pandemic? And one person answered the following: “It changed my reality 100%, but I think it's part of life to have these kinds of moments that make us question everything. It is very difficult to live them but they bring us lessons that we could not have understood in any other way”. This answer makes me question the lessons we had as a society and the different ways we could have learned them. I think it is important that each of us sit down to analyze and identify each of the learnings and lessons that you have obtained thanks to this last year. How has it changed you? How are you different from the person you were before this happened? What are you grateful for having lived through this pandemic?

Finally, we asked what other topics do you think about? Although most of the answers were similar (quality of life, privileges, recognizing emotions, family, self-esteem), there was a response that caught my attention, and I think this is how this blog should end: “makes me reflect on what are the pillars that really support our lives and shape our character? I think there are many of these moments that we tend to hate and we could change that chip to see them as things that make us strong and that give us the opportunity to grow.”

To finish, I ask you: after the pandemic, have you managed to identify the pillars that make you who you are, that sustain you and give you the strength to move forward? What are they?.

References:

- Factors That Influence Mental Health. (2021). Retrieved 29 July 2021, from https://www.thinkmentalhealthwa.com.au/supporting-my-mental-health/factors-that-can-affect-your-mental-health/

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