Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental and Physical Health

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When COVID-19 first appeared at the end of 2019, no one could have imagined its impact on the world. The global pandemic that followed left us all in quarantines and lockdowns, unable to perform our daily activities and meet our friends and families. For many people around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic effects have been anything but positive.

Yet, its consequences may be far more long-lasting than it seems. And we’re not talking just about the economic crisis that’s sure to arise from a year of lockdowns. There’s also mental and physical health to consider, and as far as we can tell, it’s already on a serious decline.

COVID-19 Pandemic Effects on People’s Mental Health

With all its quarantines, lockdowns, and uncertainties, the pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us. Many have lost their jobs or family members; others have caught the virus and barely pulled through; and still others have been left isolated, without their usual outlets and support groups. For several months, people had to stay in their homes, abandoning and postponing their goals and plans. It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could remain unaffected.

And research confirms that no one has. In fact, 41% of adults have experienced some form of depression or anxiety during the pandemic, and 11% reported having suicidal thoughts. Sadly, suicides have been on a steady rise, too, as well as substance and alcohol abuse. Sleeping and eating disorders have also become more frequent in the past year.

But it doesn’t end there. If we take a look at the people who suffered from mental disorders before the pandemic, we’ll see they’ve had it the worst. Therapy and support groups have been largely unavailable, and many of them have ended up jobless and isolated. That has only added to their struggles and led to symptom flare-ups and resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms. For many, the pandemic has been a serious setback to the progress they had made prior.

Ultimately, young or old, healthy or not, everyone’s mental health has suffered in the past year. And unfortunately, such damage can’t be undone so easily, meaning that we’ll be feeling the consequences for quite some time.

COVID-19 Pandemic Effects on People’s Physical Health

Although mental health has taken perhaps the biggest hit during the pandemic, physical health isn’t far behind. For several months, we had no choice but to stay locked up in our houses, only occasionally going for walks. The only source of physical activity for a while was home exercising, but needless to say, many people settled for an entirely sedentary lifestyle.

As you surely know, such a lifestyle can lead to a number of health issues. For instance, a lack of physical activity may cause obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. On top of that, a sedentary lifestyle can only worsen the symptoms of anxiety and depression many people experience during the pandemic. After all, everyone knows that physical activity doesn’t only help the body but also the mind.

But the lack of proper exercise hasn’t been the only source of poor physical health during the pandemic. In fact, stress, fear, and anxiety that we all have experienced to a degree certainly left a mark, too. Many people can’t eat due to stress, while others resort to overeating instead. Sleeping problems have become quite common, as well as unhealthy drinking habits and smoking.

In fact, it seems that the pandemic has negatively affected all aspects of our physical health, even worsening the symptoms of chronic illnesses.

COVID-19 Pandemic Effects in the Future — What Can We Expect?

No one knows exactly when the pandemic will end and how long this state of uncertainty will last. But our world is no longer standing in place — many companies have opened up again, as well as shops, cafes, gyms, and fitness centers. Even traveling is allowed, as long as all the appropriate measures are in place. Things aren’t quite back to normal yet, but they seem to be heading there.

So, once we go back to the world as it was before the pandemic, will our mental and physical struggles end? Well, unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question. Some people will certainly feel better as soon as they regain their freedom, while others will need more time and work on themselves. But one thing is for sure — the shift from social distancing and sedentary lifestyle to the active, pre-pandemic life won’t be easy.

In other words, as much as you might have hated it at first, you’re probably used to working from home at this point. Once things go back to normal, though, you’ll have to return to the office and learn to be a part of the work environment again. That will require some adjusting and may prove to be quite stressful at first.

How to Deal With Stress and Anxiety Caused by the Pandemic

As we’ve mentioned, options for stress relief are fairly limited during the pandemic. Still, that doesn’t mean there are no solutions, or that you shouldn’t do anything to help yourself feel better. In fact, you’ll find many resources online with advice on dealing with anxiety, fear and stress caused by the pandemic. And we’ll list our tips here:

  • Take a break from listening to or reading COVID-19-related stories
  • Do activities that you enjoy
  • Take walks around the neighborhood or try other forms of exercise
  • Stay in touch with your friends and loved ones on social media if you can’t see them in person
  • Don’t resort to alcohol, cigarettes, or other substances when you’re not feeling well
  • Try to get enough sleep every night

In Conclusion

An event of such a global scale as COVID-19 is sure to leave a mark on everyone. And looking at the state of general mental and physical health, it seems that it certainly has. The drastic rise in anxiety and depression, the increase in sleeping and eating disorders, the weight gain and the obesity epidemic — all these are COVID-19 pandemic effects to some extent. And the only way to combat them is to recognize when we have a problem and develop healthier coping mechanisms.