Written By Samantha Gibbons, Age 16
“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut” (Dr. Seuss). Traditionally speaking, Dr. Seuss exploited this quote to inspire people to become more ambitious and to live life to the fullest. However, during these unprecedented times, this can be interpreted in a completely different way. As dawn turns to dusk and the days become more repetitive, the people dwell on the way life was before mid-March. As they shut their eyes as they fall asleep, the joyous memories that consist of attending concerts, going to school, and going to work all flow into the frontal lobe of the brain. Humans are craving a sense of normalcy within their everyday lives, but are continuing to struggle to find it. The dramatic shift in our lifestyles due to the pandemic has taken a large toll on our mental health, perhaps leaving some to feel as though it has deteriorated completely. Each and every person on this planet is fighting their own internal battle, even if they appear to be the happiest and least problematic person. Mental health is just as important as physical health, but attaining a healthy mindset requires a perception of self-love.
According to a recently published scientific journal from the University of Minnesota, “COVID-19 has tripled the rate of depression in the US adults in all demographic groups—especially in those with financial worries—and the rise is much higher than after previous major traumatic events” (Van Beusekom 1). To put it succinctly, this exponential increase within these past nine months has affected various aspects of all people, regardless of where they are located. Of course, however, some do have it better than others depending upon their privilege. The financial hardships have cost the livelihood of lower-class American citizens. I have mentioned this broad, yet complex process in my previously written articles, but capitalism has allowed people of different socioeconomic classes to be granted different lifestyles within the pandemic. The more privileged citizens live in their own bubble, whereas the people who are juggling multiple occupations simultaneously can barely survive. Mental health plays a major part in this socioeconomic strain because unidentifiable emotions can arise. For instance, seeing on social media that celebrities are vacationing or partying can make one feel as though they are working twice as hard and are not granted the same privileges as them. Another scenario could consist of someone living with a family member who is elderly or immunocompromised, and knowing that they have to stay home while others are living their lives claiming and acting to be unaffected.
There are an infinite number of scenarios that each individual has gone through, but everyone has surpassed some hardship this year during this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Unfortunately, a great portion of the population of the United States has had to suffer greatly due to the amalgamation of selfishness and poor leadership. Despite the hardships you or other people have gone through, there are ways to practice self-care. Self-care is a necessity during these trying times as it can be overwhelming regarding all aspects of life. The little things go a long way, even sometimes one does not acknowledge the detrimental actions they are taking. To elaborate, it is self-care to be physically healthy. Make sure you are eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drug/alcohol use. Secondly, although this task is rather difficult at the moment, it is important to engage in social interaction; just talking on the phone with a friend for an hour a day could instantly boost serotonin levels. After talking to someone, you may want to relax, which is a key aspect of self-care. This can range from meditation to settling down and reading a chapter of a book. Furthermore, therapy is a fantastic way to release your emotions and work through those feelings. Attending a therapy session may not be the best thing for you specifically; however, verbally expressing whatever feelings you may come across to a friend or family member is another valid option. Finally, and most importantly, find something you enjoy partaking in. Everyone has something they can enjoy. For instance, I like to listen to music while reading a book or even play Just Dance. As previously stated, the little things in life make a tremendous difference.
Mental health in the midst of a pandemic is an extensive topic, but it is important to remember the significance of it. It is not far-fetched to say that 2020 has been a relatively difficult year, but we are getting through it together. Perhaps if we closed our eyes and went to bed thinking tomorrow is going to be a better day, it will alter our fixed mindset and improve our mental health in a way that was not possible before.
“COVID-19: The Emergence of a Global Mental Health Crisis during a Pandemic.” AMSA, 30 July 2020, www.amsa.org/2020/07/20/mental-health-crisis-during-covid-19/.
Mary Van Beusekom | News Writer | CIDRAP News | Sep 03, 2020. “Depression Triples in US Adults amid COVID-19 Stressors.” CIDRAP, 3 Sept. 2020, www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/09/depression-triples-us-adults-amid-covid-19-stressors.
“Taking Good Care of Yourself.” Mental Health America, www.mhanational.org/taking-good-care-yourself.