PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — We’re working our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking with us a load of stress, anxiety, maybe even post-traumatic stress disorder.
Eric Zillmer, Psy.D., a neuropsychology professor at Drexel University, said we need to address all of those mental health triggers now so they don’t become bigger problems down the line.
“We talk about unfinished business in psychology,” he said on KYW Newsradio In Depth, “and if you don’t really attack this pandemic and try to deal with it head on, you may regret it later.”
There is hope, though. As we reflect on our experiences in lockdown and how we’ve altered our lives for COVID-19, Zillmer said we can find moments of self-growth and even spiritual discovery.
“It is the kind of stress that’s really personal, and it’s overwhelming,” he acknowledged. “And yet, if you look at it in a certain way, you can manage it, and you may be able to come out of it better and stronger.”
So, how do we get out of what he calls “pandemic-mode” and make some positive life changes? Zillmer offers some tools that we can put in our “psychological backpack” — starting by eating healthy, scheduling our days and sleeping more.
“You can start simple by taking care of yourself,” he advised. “It can become more complicated by taking care of other people. … It can get even spiritual and existential where you’re looking at what makes you happy.”
If you need more help, you can always talk to a friend or seek a professional therapist.
The bottom line: “You have to take care of yourself first. You can’t help anybody else, you can’t help your family, you can’t help your colleagues at work if you do not take care of yourself first.”