In March of 2020, the world essentially shut down to stop the spread of the pandemic. Many people returned home to their parents, others lost their jobs and had to go on federal unemployment. Then a period of social unrest began after consecutive killings of civilians by police. All in all, it’s been an incredibly stressful time in history for so many people as we have all been affected by the pandemic in one way or another.
We’ve compiled some information on how to prepare as the world phases into a routine post-pandemic shutdown and how to cope with or without therapy.
Is Your Mental Health Clinic Opening up Soon?
Early in the pandemic, most mental health clinics or therapy offices closed up business and became virtual. Psychologist Dr. Pannel informs us that, “most people feel anxious right now and that is OK,” and that “self-care will get us through this new normal.” My therapy office in Brooklyn shut down enabling my therapist and I to turn our sessions virtual and adapting to the pandemic’s shutdown regulations.
While many people have had the luxury of adapting their therapy sessions into a remote option, a lot of people have lost their health care due to being furloughed or laid off. If healthcare is not a feasible option at this point, there are many at-home alternatives that we suggest.
The first coping mechanism we suggest is meditation. Meditation has been shown to lower stress and increase mindfulness, and it’s a great alternative if you do not have access to therapy. There are thousands of guided meditations for free on youtube ranging between 5 minutes to hour-long sessions that you can complete whenever and wherever.
A great app for meditation is the Calm app that is free on the app store. Another great resource is the 7 cups app that allows for one-on-one time with a compassionate listener on the app where one can talk out their thoughts and feelings. The app is free and is a great resource for those without healthcare or access to traditional therapy.
At Home Self-Care
Another coping strategy we suggest is exercise! Exercise promotes endorphins and forces you to be in the present moment. You can go for a nice afternoon jog or find a guided 20-minute at-home cardio video on youtube to follow along to.
You could also try an epsom salt bath. A bath with epsom salt, which costs four dollars at the store, is a great way to de-stress. Take a pause on all the emotions you’re feeling day to day during the pandemic and soak.
Lastly, we suggest journaling. Journaling is a great way to let go of your thoughts in a way that makes you aware of what you’re feeling, and provides a moment of peace to yourself. Dr. Courtney E. Ackerman, psychology, suggests that journaling “increases your mood, enhances your sense of well-being, reduces anxiety and depression.” A mental health clinic is not the answer for all. We all have varying degrees of anxiety and these are great alternatives for therapy.
The Reopening of Your City and How It Can Affect Your Mental Health
As cities start to reopen and the streets become more populated, there is a consensus of caution from people as we navigate a post-pandemic lockdown without a cure for the disease. New York City has transitioned into phase four of reintegration, which includes cultural institutions like museums reopening, as well as gyms, and other low-risk socially distanced activities, like bowling.
Indoor dining is still not permitted, but as the streets become more crowded and lively, the public is understandably wary. Some tips for handling the reopening include, number one – planning! If you want to go out for some outdoor dining, make a plan for getting to the restaurant and avoiding crowded locations/neighborhoods.
Number two, check-in with yourself and see what is comfortable for you. Just because others are eager to resume their summer, don’t feel pressured to put yourself in situations you feel endanger your health. Number three, reach out to friends and family and maintain your support systems during this crazy time. And lastly, we suggest that you focus on the positives daily! It is so humbling to have good health during this time, and we must remember to be grateful for what we have.