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Have you hit the COVID-19 wall? Here are some ways to cope

By Elizabeth Wellington, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Fashion Daily News

I've hit my COVID-19 wall.

I'm over obsessively rubbing my hands in sanitizer as I move through the aisles of the grocery store. I miss getting my hair done. I really miss the yoga studio. I'm now afraid of public restrooms. And I'm incredibly nervous that at any moment, I'll get a call from my mom telling me that my dad - who has a compromised immune system - has contracted the coronavirus. I don't think I can take it.

I know I'm not alone.

America is having a hard time, said Dr. Olafur S. Palsson, a professor of psychology and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Palsson has partnered with Harvard University professors to publish "The U.S. National Pandemic Emotional Impact Report." According to the survey of 1,500 Americans published in late June, more than 90% of us are struggling emotionally as a result of the pandemic. About a quarter of Americans are so distressed, our collective mental health is becoming impacted, Palsson said. That's about 82 million people.

Even former first lady Michelle Obama admitted Wednesday to suffering from a low-grade depression because of the pandemic quarantine.

We might fare better if we knew how long the discomfort will last, Palsson said. Most of us budgeted enough mental strength to get us through the end of August, as we were certain the pandemic would be contained by the start of the school year. Instead, the virus continues to scourge its way through the South, and cases in and around other areas continue to fluctuate. All the while the federal government can't seem to agree on a reopening plan. That spells chaos for many in a society that defines normalcy by a predictable school schedule.


"When stress becomes chronic - meaning we are dealing with an uncomfortable situation for more than six months - the most vulnerable of us will start to crack," Palsson said. The virus is not the only mental stressor: The economy is fragile. America is in the midst of a racial reckoning as well as likely the most contentious presidential election ever is on the horizon. Plus, the holiday season is just around the corner. How will we come together safely? "We are on the verge of a serious mental health crisis," Palsson said.

How do we press on in the midst of uncertainty and guard our mental health? We spoke to some experts.

I'm over coronavirus and I miss my old life. Am I being a baby about this?

No. You are not.


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