The pandemic has shone a harsh light on the true significance of mental health. Medical director Ken Duckworth, of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, noted that prior to the pandemic, about 1 in 5 Americans suffered from some form of mental ailment. That figure has now doubled to two in five. Isolation, financial insecurity and consistent fear for safety has clearly taken its toll. More Americans are now seeking professional help, although cost and lack of access, especially as therapy has moved online, continue to act as barriers.
Emerging young professionals, burdened with the challenge of establishing themselves in the workforce and carving out a viable future, have been hard hit by these unprecedented levels of stress. While it’s all too easy to compare or minimize hardships, it’s crucial to acknowledge how such stress impacts health, especially as virtual office environments threaten the typical notion of a work-life balance.
The situation appears bleak, but certainly not hopeless. In a time of constant coping and adjustment, there are several cost-effective and timely ways to monitor mental wellbeing, all from the comfort of your own home. To name a few:
Maintaining a journal
For those who poured their heart and soul into diaries during those tumultuous middle school years, this tip should be easy to follow. We may have discarded our angst-filled notebooks by now, but the benefits of journalin
g continue to ring true. According to the Health Encyclopedia maintained by the University of Rochester, journaling allows us to manage stress by
prioritizing our fears, tracking everyday symptoms of anxiety and identifying negative thoughts.
Of course, journaling is not a cure-all, nor a replacement for therapeutic help - writing an entry will not immediately rid you of all stress. For many, journaling might simply act as a stepping-stone to being able to open up to therapists or loved ones. For all, however, a journal provides a medium for reflective thinking. No matter what form the journal takes – whether it be a leather-bound notebook, a blog, or a series of rants on your notes app – it fosters an open discussion with yourself.
Scheduling leisure breaks
For those getting close to graduation and beginning the job search, it can feel that any moment of free time must be dedicated to thoughts of the future: laying out career goals, buffing up the résumé, drafting yet another cover letter... the list goes on. Those tasks are certainly important, but one should never lose sight of the fact that every mind deserves a break