And while some developed countries have already been sufficiently vaccinated to allow them to forget some of their pandemic worries, many less developed countries are preparing to face a third, fourth, or even fifth wave with minimal vaccination rates. In such countries, the mental health risks associated with the pandemic are still relevant.

Society is not psychologically prepared for shocks of this magnitude and, accordingly, there is an increase in the level of anxiety. Anxiety is not only about material comfort and security. One contributing factor may be a sense of “social connectedness. Over the past half-century, our ties to other people have lost their stability and predictability.

Reckless, impulsive behavior becomes frequent, especially in adolescents and young adults. Denial of danger and “devaluation” of official information are also mental defense mechanisms. 

At the same time, the abundance inherent in modern life has increased our demands for comfort: from citizens and community members, we have turned into consumers. In a material sense, we are living better than our parents and grandparents, but this only makes us feel that we lack something.

The growth of selfishness and cynicism, the panic buying up everything to have in stock, the unwillingness to tolerate restrictions, the excessive self-confidence – this is the infantile reaction of a generation that grew up without shocks with relative prosperity.  All of this leads, on a mental level, to an increase in neurotic, anxiety, depressive disorders. 

As a manifestation of the side effect of necessary anti-epidemic measures, there is an increase in withdrawal, distrust of other people and emotional detachment. The masked face impairs non-verbal communication – it is impossible to understand what emotions a person is experiencing and what is in his or her soul. 

Fear of contracting the infection from another person and suspiciousness lead to withdrawal, hostility, reluctance to make contact. The feeling of loneliness and social isolation arises from the requirement of social distance. In severe crises, there is a feeling that you have lost your former relationships, your former state, your former resources. 

The basic condition is the fetal position in the morning. You are unable to straighten up and straighten out, you want to shrink into a lump and do not want to get up. It is important to give yourself time to get through this stage. Our psychological defenses protect us from pain, but they also protect us from development. At this stage, anxiety soars and you want to hide under the covers. 

People who experience prolonged overstress are more likely to get sick. As proof of manifestations of psychosomatics – experiments of Ibn Sina (Persian scientist and physician) in the 11th century. He observed two lambs that lived in exactly the same conditions, fed and watered equally. But one of them was placed next to a wolf. The lamb lost its appetite, got sick, and died after a while. The same fate may await a person who lives in constant stress.

To maintain mental health and social well-being, psychologists have developed recommendations: 

Keep informational safety. Choose reliable sources of information: the state media, informational texts of the WHO, the UN, scientific publications, publications of the relevant ministries, and departments that are legally responsible for the published information. Learn to check the facts and reasonably assess the proposed conclusions. 

Get to know yourself. Times are changing rapidly, and we are changing with them. Recall fears, doubts, beliefs that are relevant to you at the moment. Start a journal. The motives for your actions, your intended goals, the evolution of ideas – an invaluable experience, a collection of mistakes. Writing it down gives you the opportunity to revisit your past thoughts, evaluate your goals and plans differently, understand what direction to take. 

Drain your stress on paper. Expressing your own thoughts through written notes is a kind of therapy. Problems, thoughts, memories fill your mind. “Talk it out” – paper will absorb everything. 

Organize your workspace properly for effective work/study at home. Before you start work, change your home clothes into the clothes you are used to wearing to work/study. This will help you get in the right frame of mind and switch from everyday household chores to work or study. Treat your workplace with respect (clean it, decorate it). In return, your workplace will give you many weeks of productive and comfortable work together. 

Avoid sources of stress. Identify the tasks that depress you and think about how you can avoid them. For example, order food delivery if the very thought of having to cook depresses you; hire an essay writer if you can’t write another essay on a subject you hate – if there is such a possibility, of course. Yes, you will have to spend a little money, but peace of mind is often worth much more.

Take care of your health. Do not forget to take small breaks every 20-40 minutes to replenish forces (snacks, water), get up, and stretch a little. 

Limit the “screen” time. If the amount of time spent in front of the computer, on the phone is reduced, the person is engaged in something useful during the freed hours. 

Support each other. It is very important for a person to have a good psychological state, high spirits, positive emotions, a strong bond with one’s loved ones. This is social well-being. Find words, pleasant memories, surround the other with a “warm blanket” of gratitude and warmth, because you can embrace not only with your hands, you can and should also embrace with words. The skills of sympathy, empathy, and helping those who are worse off than you help you to survive, stay human and stay healthy. 

Observe psychohygiene. Learn to distract yourself, switch to manual labor, exercise to reduce anxiety. Combat idleness and boredom. Plan daily routines, set goals for the day. Make life busy. Don’t hang out in computer games, chat rooms. It leads to mental exhaustion, increased anxiety when there are no chats, insomnia, wasted time. 

If you feel that you find it difficult to cope with anxiety on your own, seek help from a specialist (psychologist, psychotherapist). This is a more effective and environmentally friendly way to cope. 

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