The Long-Term Effects of Social Distancing During COVID-19
Humans are naturally social animals, so government enforced social-distancing and quarantine orders because of COVID-19 are not doing wonders for our mental health. Even when things start opening up and we are allowed to see people, there may possibly still be long-term mental health issues. It is important to take control of your mental health now, so you are in good spirits when you are back to seeing your friends and family.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The coronavirus pandemic is a traumatic experience for many reasons, such as a fear of catching the virus and the economic impact it has had on people. Social distancing measures can change people’s mental health, as well. There is grief that comes with social distancing, as our social lives are changing drastically. It is also traumatic to not know when this pandemic will end.
We wonder when our city will be reopened, when going back to school will start again, and when we will be able to travel again. People are still scared, even when 6-foot distancing rules are in place at public areas like grocery stores and offices.
Anxiety Over Going Out
There may also be increased anxiety rates when it comes to leaving your house. You may be too scared to leave your house and have no trust that you can be safe from the virus. Because we have been at home for so long, we may feel safer there than anywhere else.
Home tends to bring us comfort, as we live in a controlled environment that we know is safe from the virus. In the long run, it is not a satisfying life to be in your home forever with no possibility of going out and seeing other people.
Depression From Lack of Social Connection
Social distancing can result in not receiving any social support during this time. It may be nice to be able to Facetime or use Zoom to see your friends and family, but it is not the same as being able to hold their hand or give them a hug. Poor social support has been linked to depression, suicide, alcohol use, and heart disease.
Communicating on screen too much can actually result in screen fatigue, which can lead to individuals not even wanting to bother with communicating in virtual methods anymore.
Increase in Suicide
Mental health and social consequences could continue to follow for months and years to come after this pandemic. People who are already experiencing vulnerability may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. Experiencing increased stress and anxiety, financial uncertainty, loneliness, and isolation can play a role in suicidal thoughts. The chances grow when all of these factors come into play.
It can also be increasingly difficult if you have known people who have been sick or have died from this virus. The news is only focusing on the bad things that are happening as a result of this pandemic, rather than taking time to highlight the amount of people who have recovered.
Long-Term Mental Health Effects for Kids
Kids are experiencing a lack of proper schooling, social isolation, exposures to increased domestic violence, and a lack of proper nutrition. Kids could also be experiencing anxiety if they have a parent who is a healthcare worker or working at a grocery store on the front lines.
These kids are not growing up the way their parents did, where they can leave their homes without any risk. Now, they are told to stay home and stop seeing their friends—not because they did anything wrong, but because of a virus that is beyond anyone’s control.
How to Cope
The mental health problems you are experiencing now will likely last much longer than this pandemic. It is best to change your negative thought patterns now. You will never know what the future will look like weeks, months, or years from now.
Think about what you can do now for your mental health and how to enjoy yourself. You can also start to think more about your personal future instead of the future of the world. If you have been on temporary furlough or lost your job as a result of this pandemic, try to enhance new skills that can help you in the job market or think about starting a new career.
It is still also important to add a routine to your life so you can gain a sense of normalcy. Be sure to keep getting up at the same time, make your favorite meals, do chores around the house, etc. Even though you cannot see your friends and family right now, you should use all of the communication tools you have to speak to them. You will feel a lot better after talking to them, compared to staying in social isolation.
Think of how happy you will feel once you are allowed to be in the same room with them again. While this is a very trying and uncertain situation, it does not have to be a negative one. Use this time to look at the positives in being able to do things now that you were too busy to do before, like exercising, trying a new recipe, or learning a new skill.
If you live with your kids, try talking to them or play fun games with them. Take comfort in the fact that everyone around the world is dealing with this pandemic, as well, and you are not alone. The time to take care of your mental health is always now.
Living in uncertain times does not mean you should neglect your mental health. If you are suffering from the effects of social isolation, stress, and more, Silver Lining Recovery can help. Our serene outpatient care center offers a number of different individualized therapies, such as EMDR, CBT, DBT, meditation treatment, faith-based treatment, and more. Call us today at (866) 729-8577 to learn more about how we can help.