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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

We Can Help The Mental Health Pandemic. Here's How.

2020 started out great for me.

I started a new job. I was excited to move out of a slightly sketchy neighborhood to my cute apartment in Lincoln Park, Chicago where people inspired me to be healthier. I had so many yoga studios within a one-mile radius.

During all the positive changes instead of feeling happier, I felt more anxious and overwhelmed by the changes in my routine. From the outside, everything looked better but inside I felt more anxious. (I admit if you want to complain about things, it’s pretty easy).

I think I always knew that the void I felt before did not have anything to do with my old apartment or lack of dental insurance, but I thought if I made some improvements, I would feel better but I didn’t. I had anxiety, and I did not have my priorities straight.

After almost two decades of finally attempting to fix my mind with the help of the latest fads – I decided I would give yoga another shot for the tenth time because we all know it is much easier to give up than keep going.

I ‘made’ myself go to yoga. I found it annoying to have to try to go but I was proud of myself, and I shared my accomplishments on social media for the superficial boost and validation.

These are times when we have to take care of ourselves and others. So, before we start focusing too much on everything that is wrong, I suggest make one life change that is good for you.

Then Covid 19 put the entire world on hold with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders with millions of people losing many parts of their lives. I was left with no yoga, and I did not know what to do. At first, we didn’t realize the massive mental health crisis the quarantine life would lead to and there were many.

People who were spending more than enough time with their families were overwhelmed and people living on their own were lonely, which led to more depression and anxiety. Change of lifestyles, loss of employment and most importantly loss of lives deeply affected the entire world.

I disciplined myself back into yoga with the help of the mystic Sadhguru and pandemic yoga queen ‘Yoga with Adriene’. Many people started exercising more by watching videos online and some started eating too much. People had their unique ways of coping with this pandemic. People started adopting more dogs as many were working from home.

Given my background in mental health, I was aware of the long-term impacts Covid 19 would have on people. We saw a rise in people diagnosed with mental health issues because people were scared and sad. What Covid 19 did teach us is that you cannot take health lightly.

It is important to have healthy coping skills, but it is not always easy. And it can be frustrating when a friend or a family member is handling the situation better because it can make us feel worse when truthfully, we have no idea how others are truly feeling.

These are challenging times; it is quite easy to be hard on yourself and focus on your flaws and failures. I am not saying an optimistic attitude will change everything but accepting things the way they are while trying to do the right thing definitely helps.

These are times when we have to take care of ourselves and others. So, before we start focusing too much on everything that is wrong, I suggest make one life change that is good for you.

Make the time to exercise, it could be something strenuous or a short walk. Get outside, the value of outside air and sun will make a big difference in your mood. Try to add more fruits or vegetables to your diet or start with one a day. Stay in touch with loved ones, we should be so grateful that modern technology allows us to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world.

This is such an important time to stay connected with other people to appreciate them and for emotional support. I think the pandemic has really made people understand the value of people in their lives.

Mental health issues like anxiety and depression can make people do too much or too little of everything. You may want to sleep too much or have complete insomnia- you might become extremely social or cut all ties. Make a mental note of things when you notice them. It is hard to change but it is not impossible. Be patient with yourself because things take time.

It is quite easy to get irritated and angry with oneself so this is a great time to start being kind to yourself and treat yourself the way you would treat a close friend. We are all in this together, and some have it harder than others and that is life.

It is an especially important time to try to build your mental strength because we need to continue having faith that things will change for the better. Take care of each other. I am hopeful that 2021 will be a better year.


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