The Covid-19 pandemic is still very much affecting us all, and there’s no doubt that it’s been bad. On top of the massive physical health issues it has caused, and the economic hardship, it has also had negative effects on mental health, which we’ve talked about before. Many studies have shown a definite increase in mental health problems across the general population.
But I would argue that it hasn’t all been bad, and that some of the behaviors and thought patterns we’ve developed because of the pandemic may actually be good for us. If we’re going to make it through this mostly as sane as we were before, we’re going to have to find these positives and cling to them. So today, let’s take a look at some of the mental health benefits of this pandemic, however crazy that may sound.
Putting our health first
With social distancing, mask wearing, and fears of falling ill, we have all been much more strict about putting our health and safety first. We’ve given up certain activities to help keep us healthy, and have sometimes had to turn away others or remind them they’re not being safe.
And that’s a good thing, and something we should have been doing all along. Our health and safety should always come first, even if it means giving up something we might enjoy. So once this is all over— if it will ever be truly over— we should keep doing that, and not forget how important our health is.
In that same vein, Covid has given many of us a chance to spend more time working on our mental health. I know I certainly have been, and I know many others who have as well. So we should acknowledge that as one of Covid’s mental health benefits.
Open to conversations about health
Much like we’ve been putting our health first, we’ve also become much more open to having conversations about it. We tell others when we’re feeling down, so that they know they might want to stay away from us for a bit. And we’re more quick to see a doctor, for fear of having Covid.
But even if we get to a point where we no longer worry about catching Covid-19, we should continue to practice this openness. That will make us more likely to get care when we need it, and prevent us from spreading other illnesses like the flu.
Another thing that’s come out of this pandemic is a big focus on boundaries. We remind people to stay six feet away, we work from home, and we do what we need to to keep ourselves safe. This emphasis on setting, and maintaining, boundaries should be extended to other facets of our lives.
Setting boundaries is a huge part of keeping yourself mentally healthy. You should be able to tell others what you need, and have them respect that. This can mean having your own place to work, staying six feet apart, finding good hours when working from home, avoiding certain topics, and more.
The pandemic has also taught people another thing related to boundaries— the importance, and difficulty, of separating work from home, especially when working from home. This helps you keep the stresses of one part of your life from seeping into the other, and helps you both work better and feel better when not working.
While we’re all working from home, many of us have had a lot more control over our schedules. Even if we can’t fully control our hours, we have more control over when we take breaks or do certain tasks. And this definitely has mental health benefits.
Having more control means that we can take breaks when we need them, and prevent ourselves from getting overwhelmed. It means that we don’t have to stress as much about certain tasks. And all of this combined means that we actually work better. Having this kind of control and lower stress can really boost your productivity!
Of course, this isn’t true for everyone. Some people still have very strict schedules. But for those who have gotten more control, all of these benefits apply, and they still get their jobs done. So maybe it’s something we should consider keeping around.
Sadly, this still isn’t as widespread as it should be. Some companies still allow very limited sick days, even with Covid in the mix. But others have been allowing their workers more sick days when they need them, and that is definitely a good thing.
Paid time off when you’re sick doesn’t just benefit a worker. It helps to keep the whole company safe. After all, if a worker can’t take off and comes into work sick, then everyone can get sick. So as more businesses begin to allow for more sick days, we should keep pushing them to do so and keep it in place even after Covid has begun to pass.
When Covid first hit, it seemed like the world was suddenly flooded with people. As someone who was active a lot (before getting injured, anyway), I noticed a huge increase in the number of people I saw while hiking, walking, playing tennis, and just generally being outside.
The reason for this was obvious: people hated being stuck indoors and not going to work, so turned to walking and other things as a way to get out. Since then, it has seemingly died down a bit, but it’s something we should certainly bring back.
After all, both sunlight and exercise have wonderful effects on mental health. Sunlight can help alleviate symptoms of depression, and exercise releases chemicals that lift mood and decrease stress levels. So maybe once the snow melts away for the year, we’ll all remember that, and once again get outside a lot more
You hear it all the time these days: what is time? And that’s because the world seems to have slowed down around us. Without many of the activities we would normally do, we’re left to focus on other areas in our lives.
And that is, without a doubt, one of Covid’s best mental health benefits. Taking the time to slow down, see where we are in our lives, and focus on the present moment and the people around us is really good for us. Even once our schedules become busy again, we should remember that, and take time every now and then to just slow down for a bit.
In these slowed down moments, we can also take the time to recognize the people that we have leaned on a lot during this pandemic, and think about how much they mean to us. With this knowledge, we can make sure to spend better time with them, and remind them of how much we love them, and what they mean to us.
It’s not all bad
Clearly, the pandemic sucks. There’s no way around that. But by finding some of the good sides of it, and trying to focus on those, we can provide ourselves with an anchor to get through this all without losing our minds.
And it’s not the same for everyone, sadly. Some people may have already had these benefits before Covid, and some may still not have them. But as a general society, these are things that have changed, and they’re worth carrying with us into the future.
Can you think of other benefits from the pandemic that you want to share? Leave a comment below, or share on social media and tag us (@therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram and @llctherapeutic on Twitter). We’d love to hear from you!