It’s been over a year since the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and while the virus has created its impact on the physical well-being of millions in the us and around the world, it has left an impact on everyone’s mental health in some way.
“Boy it’s been challenging for all of us hasn’t it, right?” said Dr. John Stachula, Psychology Professor, Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
Dr. Stachula says a year’s worth of pandemic stress has altered our minds.
“That prolonged chronic stressor that literally does things like making it more difficult for us to think clearly, we have a lot of struggles just operating in our life and as a psychologist and it quite literally starts to change some of the chemistry and the functioning of the brain,” said Dr. Stachula
“We know people under long, prolonged stressful periods, they become more susceptible to things like depression, to anxiety,” said Dr. Stachula.
The American Medical Association found in a February report found 43% of adults had at least one adverse mental health symptom, such as depression or anxiety. Stachula says the stress is reprogramming people’s brains.
“Getting trained to be a little more reactive to stress which is not how we want to function all the time but, again, prolonged chronic stress can do that to us,” said Dr. Stachula.
But there are ways to combat stress, and the most common way is to find control.
“I can’t control when the pandemic is going to come to an end, but I can try to choose what are the things in my life I can control and really focus and attend to those,” said Dr. Stachula.
As well as keeping a routine.
“Engaging in regular activity we know is one of the positives for the brain. regular sleep, not getting your sleep cycles too thrown off I mean that’s creating as much of that normalcy, that control as you can,” said Dr. Stachula.
“Everything in life is a balance, and when the world is imperfect, you try to do the best you can with it,” said Dr. Stachula.