Hang In There: Millennials and Mental Health in a Pandemic

Social distancing and the halt of normal activities are unquestionable necessities while in the thick of COVID-19. In order to return close to normal anytime soon, we must practice physical separation and sacrifice pieces of our daily routines. There is no sight of when we might be able to go back to work, go out to eat or casually visit with our friends again. The spread has just begun in America. Despite millennials being a generation known for excessive use of technology and social media, we cherish physical time with our loved ones. For many of us suffering from mental health challenges, socialization and time away from the home are crucial factors in our well-being. We enjoy eating meals together, sharing cups of coffee, kava or beers, and find support by conversing about our struggles and triumphs in a regular setting. We share hugs and kisses. Kind touch is a form of medicine to us. We are a generation suffering from some of the highest rates of stress ever witnessed due to workplace burnout, money concerns and general loneliness. We are also the generation most willing to take steps towards support and healing. Although social distancing is indeed an opportunity to go inward, many of us deeply crave and have come to rely on external interaction to get by. If you are part of the LGBTQ community, social distancing can be even more isolating. Online communities can be a helpful resource to connect with others during this mandated isolation.

Enjoying this time at home is a privilege. For many individuals, the homes quarantined in are unhealthy environments. We may be forced into intimate contact with roommates or family members we don’t get along with. Unfortunately, calls for domestic violence have increased as some people are forced to shelter in place with their abusers. It can be hard not to fall into the cycle of mindless television or staring at pandemic headlines all day on our phones. We may binge eat as a coping mechanism. We may feel triggered to smoke or drink more. We may not have the motivation to do anything but lay in bed as the unknown outcomes of these circumstances overwhelm our thoughts and invade our minds with endless “what-ifs”. It can be difficult to see our regular therapist or energy worker during this time. And even if our chosen professional offers phone consultations, it doesn’t feel quite the same. For some of us dealing with mental health, we couldn’t afford to see a professional before, and definitely can’t now that we’ve lost jobs. Online resources, like BetterHelp, are available to those who are seeking help. In cases where medication is needed, you can get them at affordable prices from an online Canadian pharmacy. Depression is characterized by a low mood, persistent sadness or despair – and so much time alone indoors tends to trigger these symptoms.  Being out in the sunlight is normally a huge help for those with forms of depression. Regular doses of vitamin D are known to improve mental duress, but there is uncertainty around where it is safe to be outside if we do not have our own porch or backyard. And while depressed, we may merely forget about the simple task of stepping outside. If suffering from anxiety or paranoia, we may be too nervous to step out for any matter, whether it’s a necessity or not.

One of the most important aspects of staying mentally healthy is the feeling of stability. And these times are incredibly unstable. Many of us have felt like our lives were just starting to get on track as we began approaching the spring of 2020. And then suddenly, the whole world collapsed. Or maybe our lives seemed more chaotic than ever – and then the world collapsed. At least, that’s what it’s felt like. It can be challenging to know whether we’re taking this too seriously or not serious enough. On top of being concerned for ourselves, a lot of us are deeply concerned about the rest of the world. We often feel responsible for ensuring that the people we know practice proper social distancing methods, like our relatives who suddenly have no clue how to stay home. While we’re trying to focus on doing the best we can to reduce the spread, we realize we cannot control what others choose. We realize we cannot fully control how long this pandemic will last, or how it will change the world as we know it. We cannot fully comprehend its effects on our lives. To those struggling with mental health in these unprecedented times, hang in there.

You are loved. Remember that this will not last forever. Remember that your friends are still your friends, that they are here for you and will be around when this ends. Remember that you are not responsible for everyone’s actions. Taking the weight of the world on is not your duty. Remember to breathe. Do your best to build a temporary routine that includes self-love and compassion for your circumstances. Trust that we are in this together.

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