Adjusting to the ‘new normal’: taking care of mental health coming out of the pandemic

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As more people get vaccinated and the world opens up, getting adjusted to the “new normal” will present challenges to mental health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is a good time to analyze how coming out of the pandemic affects us mentally. This past year, families made major adjustments in their daily lives, such as working from home and switching to online school.

Now, coming out of the pandemic might be just as challenging for some.

As a result, some doctors are seeing a rise in anxiety and depression.

WANE 15 spoke to Dr. Jay Fawver, Ambulatory Chief at Parkview Physicians Group Psychiatry, about healthy ways to cope with these issues. He said he believes taking care of your body and striving for life balance helps take care of the mind.

“You do need to exercise, stay physically active,” said Dr. Fawver. “We always talk about the mantra of social activity, physical activity. And third thing being your diet, you need to maintain that balance.”

While people should stay mindful of social distancing and other precautions in crowded spaces, Dr. Fawver said that having a social connection outside of your household – even if it’s just digitally – is important to maintain that life balance.

“Try to have some individual personal connectedness with other people outside your home and at your workplace and your social environment as much as possible,” Dr. Fawver said.

Many people have felt socially isolated during lockdown and the unavailability of public spaces to converse has taken a toll on young people in particular. As a result, Dr. Frawver said that he’s been seeing social anxiety in teens and young adults.

His best advice? Start small and work up from there.

“You know, with most of us getting vaccinated now, I’m hoping that fear will be alleviated,” said Dr. Fawver. “The key with any phobia is you need to expose yourself to whatever is bothering you the most. If going out and being around people is causing you to be anxious, give yourself some reassurance – more and more of us are getting vaccinated. Few of us are dying from COVID. Now we need to go out and get around people once again and get our lives back.”

While Dr. Fawver emphasized that staying physically and socially healthy is key to maintaining mental health, he also acknowledged the stigma of seeking help. He encouraged those who need it to speak to a professional.

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