Now that many people are getting vaccinated and there is a significant decline in the spread of COVID-19, I have begun to re-think my health habits over the last year. In May, after months of delay, I scheduled my cancer screenings and annual physical. I have had to be very intentional about shifting back into healthy routines after a year of disruption. I am not alone; in one study, 61% of adults reported gaining undesired weight, 23% reported drinking more alcohol, and nearly half of adults skipped medical screenings or appointments over the last year. Physicians are now urging us to return to our preventive care, cancer screenings, and healthy behaviors.
At the same time physicians are genuinely concern about the stress levels and poor mental health that Americans are experiencing. Feelings of grief, traumatic experiences, and prolonged stress are leading to an increase in serious mental distress. Essential workers, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and parents of young children are disproportionally impacted. We need to understand that life will never look and feel the same as it did prior to 2020. For many, professional mental health services are needed to begin to process and heal from the events and experience of the last year. General advice is to remember that you are not alone; attempt to rekindle your purpose and passions; and use techniques such as prayer, meditation, and mindfulness to begin to cultivate resilience.
Self-care and a focus on wellbeing are important strategies to rebuild your health. Experts suggest creating daily rituals, healthy habits, and exercise routines. There are many articles, videos, and apps that can help you as you get started. While helpful, they do not take the place of trained mental healthcare workers. We must all acknowledge the need for many more trained mental healthcare workers and work to find solutions of increasing their numbers and availability.
Three things to learn about this week:
- A New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns
- Why Mental Health Won’t Just Go Back to Normal
- How to Replace Pandemic Bad Habits and Get Healthier Now