The world we live in is a strange and complex place, and it has been so for as long as there have been humans. Yet there is one thing we can all agree on: the global pandemic has been an immense burden on our mental health. The world we live in has changed, profoundly. The way we organize ourselves emotionally has changed. A good portion of the population is now psychologically overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the constant stream of new information.
“In terms of lockdown’s impact on mental health and on the brain, this doesn’t get easier, this gets harder. The impacts of stress and the impacts of all the loss that lockdowns bring are cumulative. That cumulative stress moves people away from the hope,” says psychologist Chris Cheers.
The one thing we know for certain about the coming months is that there’ll be a lot of grieving. Not just for those who have died, but for those who are sick and disabled, for those who lost their jobs, livelihoods, and sense of safety. It’s going to be hard to keep focused on the present, much as we might want to. Pandemic stresses overwhelm us in thinking about the past and the future more than we want to. We feel overly concerned, over-organized, and otherwise unprepared for whatever the future may hold.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it helps if we can pause and take stock of where we are now. By focusing on the present moment rather than the past or future, we can find relief in our own sense of strength and power; by considering how we are changing, not just as individuals but as part of a larger community. It makes a lot more sense when you realize that the whole world is grieving — collectively and personally.