Speaking Mental Health
Forward Times Mental Health Advisors
After one year, Americans continue to show signs of stress and anxiety related to the pandemic. Signs are showing up in their mental and physical health as well as their behavior. The impact of pandemic stress has caught us by surprise and continues to show up in ways that we were not expecting. While some adults have lost weight that they were not planning to lose, stress has caused over 61% of adults to gain undesired weight. Eating and snacking while at home and consuming increased amounts of alcohol to adjust to the new lifestyle has left many adults with an additional 29 pounds on average. The drastic changes do not end there. More women than men have reported having more mental health issues. Men have reported more physical and behavioral changes. Due to being at home, 53% of adults have been less physically active than they would normally be. Gaining this amount of weight in such a short time may have a negative impact on physical health, which in turn affects the mental well-being.
Massive amounts of grief, including the loss of jobs, freedom, and loved ones have caused many people to consume too much alcohol to cope. In addition to the weight gain, alcohol impacts the sleep quality as well. Either too much or not enough sleep also weighs on the level of stress and anxiety. In a recent report, 67% of adults reported not sleeping right, leaving them feeling down the next day and continuing the cycle of eating and drinking alcohol.
We must be active in preserving ourselves and take action to increase sleep quality and overall wellness. Some lifestyle changes that may help are:
- Find a buddy to change with you – find someone whom you can exercise with. Be accountable for one another.
- Get moving! – exercise is very beneficial for managing stress, anxiety, and weight. It will also help to improve your sleep quality which will also help to manage weight.
- Put the glass down – drinking less alcohol will improve your physical and mental health. It will also provide mental clarity to achieve more tasks and allow you to be more active.
- Establish meal routines – eat with family and specify time. Plan meals to help with managing weight and try new recipes.
- Reconnect with family – visiting family members after being vaccinated may help you not to feel so isolated and increase comfort.
Although many people are becoming vaccinated, there are still doubts of how life will be after the pandemic. Nearly half of adults say they don’t feel comfortable going back to life as it was before the pandemic. Try setting routines and practicing safe protocols. Some of the mental health changes we are seeing may have a long term impact. Visiting a therapist and putting new lifestyle changes in place may go a long way.