As the world rang in 2020, little could anyone have known what the new year and decade would usher in with it. Shortly after people cleared away champagne glasses and confetti, a pandemic started spreading throughout the world. One by one, nations globally succumbed to the novel coronavirus even as governments implemented quarantines attempting to contain the damage.
In the nearly 18 months since the World Health Organization and the United States officially declared a pandemic, hundreds of millions of people have suffered devastating health effects. But billions of people worldwide have suffered economic impacts. Even in the US, arguably one of the wealthiest nations in the world, many people are teetering on the brink of financial ruin despite government relief efforts.
Job Losses Hit People Hard
As a result of quarantines and shutdowns, many people lost jobs. A few people were able to transition to working from home, but most people could not. They were forced into unemployment and made a fraction of their normal income through unemployment insurance. Yet even with ongoing benefits, many individuals and families slipped farther and farther behind financially, making it difficult to pay bills. A moratorium on foreclosures and rent saved many from homelessness, but the moratorium came to an end even though waves of COVID-19 cases continued to close down portions of the economy.
Individuals who required hospitalization because of the coronavirus face additional financial burdens. Looming medical debt combined with protracted convalescence made an already uphill battle feel impossible for many.
Mental Health Challenges Threaten Lives
Yet as challenging as the financial aspects are, the stress and anxiety have placed severe mental health strains on many people. Loneliness, isolation, depression, and desperation have formed a perfect storm of mental health challenges. Mental health challenges are quickly becoming the new pandemic.
Help is available. Just as with an illness or injury, counselors can minimize trauma when people seek help early, and outcomes are better and faster. Many people, however, practice problem avoidance, which tends to allow problems to multiply and become more complex.
It’s neither weakness nor a sign of character flaw to seek help. Mental challenges like those presented by critical health and financial problem don’t go away without intervention, and they aren’t something people just get over. In fact, it takes incredible courage and resolve.
One way many people reach out is through online counselors for helpful mental health tips. Online counseling can be incredibly affordable, allows flexibility in scheduling and payment plans, is there when people need it, and addresses problems in the moment with actionable advice to help individuals start feeling more in control right away.
Other Ways to Take Control
People often feel better if they feel they have some control. One way of achieving that might be to start a side gig. There are plenty of ideas for side hustles that can make varying amounts of money. People often capitalize using talents or materials they already have available.
Earning more money is one way of exerting more control, but spending less money is another. Look for ways to economize. To save money, people often stop subscriptions to optional magazines, gaming services, or even cable television premium services. And, of course, eating in and preparing meals at home always keep costs down.
But taking control may also mean people need to take better care of themselves overall. It’s not just about the external factors, but the internal ones, as well. When people worry, they tend to disrupt sleep patterns, eating schedules, the types of foods they eat, exercise routines, who they see, and how often. Some people feel ashamed and guilty as if they believe the whole world somehow knows their finances and would judge them — so they avoid friends and family.
All of these things take a toll. It’s critically important for people to practice good self-care in nutrition, sleep, exercise, socialization, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. But it’s also vital to remember to take baby steps. Self-care isn’t about perfection; it’s about taking small, positive steps each day in the right direction and forgiving mistakes if they happen. Incremental change is easier to support and maintain than radical change. When people are healing and recovering from significant traumas, whether financial, health, or mental, patience, gratitude, self-appreciation, and self-forgiveness are some of the best tools individuals can bring to the table.