Mental health in the United States has taken a huge hit this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. A recent survey found that one-third of Americans reported symptoms of clinical anxiety or depression since the public health crisis began. Months of isolation, fears of contracting and spreading the coronavirus, and mounting economic uncertainty have taken a collective toll on the nation.
And now, we’re in the throes of an incredibly tense election season. The results—which may very well determine the fate of our democracy and our collective public health—may not even be known until well after Nov. 3 due to a surge in mail-in voting. To say that a delayed outcome may only further increase anxiety and other mental health struggles is an understatement for many Americans.
“Some anxiety and stress are OK,” Melody Li, a therapist in Texas, told COURIER earlier this year. “This low-level of anxiety helps us feel engaged, prepared, and be quick to respond, which is important.”
But when you start to feel overwhelmed and your anxiety is amplified, it’s time to take a moment for yourself.
That’s why COURIER is turning to mental health experts for advice on how to cope in these trying times. We’ll update this space regularly between now and Election Day (and after, if needed) with suggestions for how to navigate pandemic isolation, election anxiety, and more. Stay tuned.
OCTOBER 16, 2020 11:49 AM EDT
Nothing Feels Normal in 2020. Here’s How to Cope With the Loss of Your Favorite Traditions
We may have to rethink what the holidays look like this year because of the pandemic, and that’s OK. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is altering his holiday plans. North Carolina-based therapist Allison Todd said one way to cope with the loss of your favorite traditions is to create brand-new ones. She also said it’s important to acknowledge your feelings, even angry ones. “Whatever you’re feeling is normal and OK,” Todd said. “Thoughts and feelings are automatic. You can’t control them. You can control what you do with them.”
OCTOBER 15, 2020 1:46 PM EDT
How to Navigate an Election Cycle Full of Misinformation
Michigan therapist Erica Carulli says it’s important to protect your mental health from information overload by being more selective in what you choose to consume, setting a time limit to how much news you’re consuming each day, and unplugging when necessary. “Trust yourself, listen to your intuition,” she said. “If you need a break, take it. Then try again. When we can meditate, practice good self-care and stay in the present moment we are ultimately practicing and being mindful of letting go of the things out of our control.”
OCTOBER 1, 2020 4:10 PM EDT
Political Unpredictability Is Causing Anxiety. Here’s What You Need to Know.
The current political climate is causing higher rates of stress and anxiety—there’s just so much at stake. That can lead to feeling overwhelmed, confused, sad, or irritable. Chronic stress and anxiety can also cause you to be more susceptible to getting sick, and more often.
Miriam Rodríguez, a licensed mental health counselor in Miami, recommends you work to keep your anxiety in check by focusing on what you can control and limit your media diet. “People are finding stress triggers from their own friends who have strong opinions,” she said. For this reason, try not to engage in angry debates or solicit everyone’s opinion. “Set ground rules to keep political talk out of the dining room, social gatherings or family reunions.”
MARCH 19, 2020 2:27 PM EDT
Does the Pandemic Have You Feeling Overwhelmed? You’re Not Alone
Teresa Mok is an Illinois-based licensed clinical psychologist. She said it’s normal to feel some anxiety right now—we are, after all, living in pandemic. But if you find yourself “catastrophizing”—or believing things are far worse than they really are—it’s time to get out of your thoughts. She suggests doing so by talking to people about your feelings, taking breaks from social media, and making sure the information you’re consuming is accurate.
“Sometimes the vigilance isn’t really vigilant,” Mok said. Instead, “it’s magnifying worry.”