It’s been one year since we shut down due to the pandemic. So what’s new?

As we move past the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 taking the globe by utter surprise, we might find ourselves continuing to have a difficult time adjusting. You are not alone. Our lives were completely turned upside down in so many ways. Let’s talk about how these new ways of life became the hot topic for mental health professionals.

Enter Zoom – No one had probably heard of zoom prior to the pandemic and now the virtual platform has its own term. The dreaded “Zoom Fatigue.” We’ve entered a new age of distance learning, work from home, and zoom hang outs. With all these virtual ways to connect, it’s been a mixed bag for some who really thrive in this technology-based world and others who long for the pre-Covid in-person social gatherings. If you’re experiencing anxiety, stress or exhaustion from zoom meetings, it’s because your brain has to process a lot of information while being stimulated by the blue light from your electronic screens. There has been extensive research on how blue light can throw off our sleep cycle. Most people will find they experience a dip in their mood if they aren’t able to get a restful night’s sleep. Overtime, this can wreak havoc on your mental health. We suggest giving yourself a break from screens. Spend time outdoors, in nature with natural light and move your body.  It will do wonders for your brain!

Returning to the world of Socializing – Anxiety and stress can also be increased by a re-introduction to the bustling world around us. Being indoors and doing most activities remotely during quarantine has decreased the amount of stimulation we take in throughout the day. Have you noticed that traffic is particularly challenging; or that going to the grocery store seems overwhelming?  Have you gone out to a happy hour and found that you want to retreat back to your home with the peace and quiet? Our brains take time to adapt to different environments. Try not to overwhelm yourself by putting too many public errands on your to-do list, try going to the grocery stores during the week in the early morning or late evening, and keep social hours to a minimum. At least until you build up a tolerance to the new guidelines of the world and the hustle and bustle of the city.

What about the kiddos? Children are pretty resilient especially when they have positive guidance and support from trusted adults in the home. They are going to be going through an adjustment period as they move from distance learning to a hybrid schedule or see parents and caregivers return to in-office work. They may experience separation anxiety or find it a struggle to begin socializing again. Mental health affects people of all ages, races, genders and classes. Your child may benefit by being coached on following grounding techniques to help them manage the stress and worry experienced: deep belly breathing (try: inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, repeat 4 times), guided imagery of their favorite place, an uplifting mantra to repeat in their minds, or a comforting fidget toy. There are great resources and videos all over the internet so that you can help teach your little ones how to manage their mental health. We recommend searching YouTube or connecting them with a mental health professional in your area, and, of course you can email or send us a message for more ideas!

We want to normalize the presence and importance of managing our mental health just as much as we do for physical help. The link between mental and physical health is undeniable. We are in this journey together and we are certainly here to help. If you’re interested in speaking to a mental health professional and live in or neighboring rural communities of Valley Center, Ramona, Campo, Alpine or Julian contact (760) 788-9725 to get connected with a Behavioral Health team member at Vista Hill SmartCare.

April San Roman, LMFT, Behavioral Health Consultant

Posted in Blog.