Pandemic Effects on Mental Health

This is a guest blog post by Kristen Matul Toc, BPL Intern.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness states that 1 in 5 young people report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health. The pandemic heightened anxiety in my household and in others. In my family, a dry throat has made us all panic about being sick.

According to Medline Plus, “anxiety” is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. Do you ever get worried about having COVID-19? Do you ever get an annoying or bothersome thought that there might be something wrong with your body? That could be anxiety. Even before the pandemic, the feeling of worry affected us all differently. Anxiety is an intense form of worry that can make it hard to concentrate and sleep. Below are some ideas to consider if you think you may be affected by anxiety or extreme worry.

  1. Talk to a medical professional. It is important to maintain a good relationship with someone who knows your health history and can hear your concerns. We have resources that can help with communication between you and your doctor since words and terms can become confusing at a doctor’s office. 
  2. Put yourself first. Be nice to yourself! One of the resources the library offers is free access to Headspace; all you need is a library card.* Headspace uses science-backed tools to help you support your mental health. Experience the benefits with the help of guided meditations, animations, and videos. We host regular online workshop tutorials on how to use Headspace. The Headspace motto is “Be kind to your mind.” This aligns perfectly with self-care. 
  3. More resources from the library. Another way to practice mindfulness is through movement and connection. Select library branches offer yoga for young and older adults. Not only is this a free class, but it is a great way to meet other people who are interested in yoga as well. Being present takes practice. The end goal is to lower your anxiety levels and to help you find enjoyment. We also have booklists that offer title recommendations to further your learning on these topics. 

*A free physical BPL library card can be obtained by bringing a form of ID and proof of MA residency to a desk at the Central Library at Copley Square or at any BPL Branch. If you can't come in to get a physical library card, you can get an eCard

On a more personal note, when I had surgery earlier in the year, I felt more anxious than normal for understandable reasons. I connected with a few people who went through the same operation. It felt nice to talk about my feelings with people who understood. In fact, it felt like a relief. Telling people how we feel can lessen the power of anxious thoughts.

We all have mental health, and we all deserve for it to be strong. Visit our Mental Health page for more resources on the topic. I hope these ideas help you get started. 

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