Our Changing Lives: Mental Health
The state of mental health in the U.S. has been worsening for many years now, among children and adults, and the pandemic essentially threw gasoline on that fire.
In addition to higher incidences of eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, many of us are also experiencing burnout, loneliness, sleep problems and the ongoing stress of being a caregiver. Others just feel like they are languishing.
These issues have been particularly acute for some groups: Seventy percent of unpaid caregivers — either parents with children under 18, or people taking care of an adult — have reported adverse mental health symptoms during the pandemic.
So what can we do to take better care of ourselves as the Delta variant throws a wrench in our hopes to return to normal? This week, for “Our Changing Lives,” I posed a few questions to my colleague Christina Caron, who covers mental health for The Times.
13 percent of those surveyed by the C.D.C. said they had either started or increased substance use to deal with stress or emotions related to the pandemic. And, as my colleague Anahad O’Connor reported earlier this year, a nationwide survey found that one in four adults reported drinking more this past year to manage their stress.
People are also stress-eating, staring at screens and sleeping either too much or not enough.
As you can imagine, these things are not going to help you feel your best.
What is healthy and effective?
Experts recommend taking regular breaks from your electronic devices, exercising, meditating, eating healthy meals and getting plenty of sleep. Make time also to connect with other people or organizations in your community, even if it’s only online.
How can people recognize whether their mental health has suffered during the pandemic? What are the telltale signs?
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who said their mental health was not affected by the pandemic. But how do you know if you need additional support? One of the primary indicators is if the way you are feeling is starting to affect the way you live your life.
We’d love to hear from you.
How is your family handling school this year? What steps have you taken to prepare? What lessons have you learned from the last pandemic school year that you’ll apply in the fall semester? What do your kids want us to know?
Thanks in advance for sharing. We may use your response in the next edition of “Our Changing Lives,” our series about big lifestyle shifts during the pandemic.
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