How Coronavirus is Affecting Our Mental Health and What to Do About It
The founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Marc Brackett, has conducted a massive survery regarding how people feel right now amidst the panic that COVID-19 has caused. Brackett has conducted similar studies before, but for the first time, this study found that 95% of people felt anxiety, stress, and fear. Even the 5% leftover are not feeling joy or happiness, but instead feeling hope and optimism that things will get better than they are now.
With no way of knowing how this will continue to affect the world, feelings of stress could continue for an indefinite amount of time.
“We are, right now, living in a nation, pretty much a world, where people are highly activated, feeling anxious, feeling like they have no ability to predict what’s going to happen,” Brackett recently told Worth. “They can’t control what’s going to happen and that it might last forever. And it’s really putting our nation in a terrible place regarding their mental health.”
Brackett hopes that these feeling of unease will lessen as the curve continues to flatten and people are allowed to return to their normal lives, but he expects that it is likely that these negative feelings will continue to affect people’s intimate relationships and emotions for years as we manage our social interactions.
Getting caught up in feelings of negativity can be easy, but it’s important now more than ever to practice emotional intelligence and mindfulness, two things that are being challenged with the uncertainty of finances and relationships. Here are three helpful tips for practicing mindfulness :
- Engage in something stimulating that you enjoy
This can be reading, watching TV, or exercising–or all three. The whole point is to do something that engages your brain to think beyond the current stress and into something else. Divulging into another world can allow you to empathize with others and yourself, while exercising can implement some self-discipline in a time that has very little discipline.
“What that does is it allows your parasympathetic nervous system to come into action, which lowers the heart rate and allows your thinking part of the brain to function properly,” said Brackett. “And so, if you don’t know that, then what happens is that you’re activating, you start yelling, you start screaming, you start saying, ‘why are you doing that?’ And when you do know that, you know you need to take that pause. You know you need to give yourself the proper space in order to collect yourself, so that you can actually have a productive conversation. How many of us, when we’re activated, would just go right for the jugular and say things that we regret as opposed to giving ourselves the space?”
3. Take the time to meditate and reflect
This doesn’t have to be something that will take a long time, and you can do it whenever you want. If you take time in the morning, reflect on all the positive things you have to be grateful for, and set a plan for what you want to achieve in your day. If you do it in the evening, take the time to slow your heart rate and engage any problems that you may have not addressed in the day. Addressing them, but not allowing them to overwhelm you, can help you come to a conclusion on how to deal with them instead of allowing stress to build up around them.