Story at a glance
- A new report shows younger generations are finding relief in the lack of socialization during the coronavirus pandemic.
- At the same time, this feeling can generate guilt in some.
- A licensed clinical psychologist speaks about the complexities of managing mental health during this pandemic.
For those on the frontlines of the mental health battle during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s becoming more difficult in their personal and professional lives.
“For the first time at least in my career as a therapist, the clients and the people around me are going through the same things I am,” said Lissette León-Iglesias, a licensed clinical psychologist who offers telehealth appointments to her patients.
A new survey by SocialPro examined how the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown have affected levels of social anxiety across age groups and gender. The survey included 1,228 adults, 80 percent from the U.S., the UK, Canada, and Australia, who responded through email and Amazon Mturk.
Almost 9 in 10 respondents reported feeling more anxious because of the coronavirus, with women being more anxious than men. Some people are more vulnerable than others, said León-Iglesias, especially those with pre-existing mental illnesses. But there are also those who have found relief in their new reality.
“Surprisingly, I’ve also seen people that are feeling a little bit of relief in terms of not having to deal with certain things that are triggers for their anxiety,” she said.
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Younger generations’ social anxiety has made them more inclined than baby boomers to appreciate the lockdown, according to the SocialPro report. But while they are relieved to socialize less, younger respondents were also more concerned than baby boomers about going back into society after social distancing measures are removed.
But that relief can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt for those who are relatively well off and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. It's similar to survivor's guilt, said León-Iglesias, a feeling that can be especially common with women.
“How do we explore the thoughts that we’re having? Are we thinking that we’re not deserving of being well and that other people are? It might go back to my sense of self worth and what do I deserve,” she said.
León-Iglesias recommends meditation to many of her patients, especially those struggling to cope with anxiety, pointing to research that supports its benefits.
“It’s not going to solve what’s going on outside, but it’s going to help you recharge,” she said.
Still, it’s important to ask for help when you need it. And don’t wait for the pandemic to end, warned León-Iglesias.
“We know ourselves so we need to trust how we feel. We know when we might say this is not right. And that should be enough to ask, ok what can I do,” she said.
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