We’ve officially marked the anniversary of global Covid-19 lockdowns – if you’re reading this then congratulations on surviving a year of socializing on Zoom, a toilet paper shortage, political and cultural turmoil, and a seemingly endless amount of Netflix binges – all from the comfort of your couch. And while it seems counter-intuitive to say that a year of staying in much has been one of the most emotionally taxing years for many, that’s not far from the truth. The Canadian Mental Health Association has found that mental health has deteriorated since the onset of Covid-19 (and even more so during 2021 than 2020). The negative toll on mental health has also disproportionately affected those with pre-existing mental health conditions and disabilities, Indigenous Canadians, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Shockingly, 60% of people aged 18-24 reported deteriorating mental health, vs. 21% in those aged 75 and over. Clearly many people are struggling during the pandemic, and while we all must deal with the reality of living in a pandemic - the effects are unequally felt.
Although some have taken advantage of the shift in responsibilities to be extremely productive (looking at you, Taylor Swift), for many it has been difficult to stay motivated and optimistic. Believing that your peers are coping well - and even thriving - can be demoralizing if you’re not. These are incredibly difficult times, especially compounded with an increased sense of isolation. So how do you combat these feelings of isolation and pandemic fatigue while maintaining social distance measures safely?
"Believing that your peers are coping well - and even thriving - can be demoralizing if you’re not. These are incredibly difficult times, especially compounded with an increased sense of isolation."
First and foremost, acknowledge that you do not have to be okay all the time. We are all living under incredibly exceptional and abnormal circumstances – and bad days will happen. Feeling burnt out is completely valid – remember that it is especially important to take time to disconnect. Working or taking classes from home has benefits, but it is also difficult to be in front of a screen all day long. Disconnecting allows your brain some much needed downtime. With Spring finally on the horizon, there’s no better time to get outdoors, even if just for a quick walk. Getting outside can be an incredible stress reducer.
While it is still crucial to remain physically social distancing, it’s more important than ever to maintain our social connections. One way you can stay connected while getting some needed time away from a screen is to have a walking phone call with a friend – chat while you both go for a walk. However you choose to reach out, don’t be afraid to share if you are struggling with mental health or fatigue.
2021 has seen some incredible strides in terms of vaccine approvals and rollouts, but the pandemic is far from over. A year spent in quarantine is certainly not how any of us expected to welcome a new decade, and yet in spite of this we have all continued to do the best we can. By taking care of our selves, our mental health, and each other, we can ensure that we get through this challenging time together.