The COVID-19 pandemic woke us up. We faced collective reality check after reality check. We had to adapt quickly, and we did what was asked of us to keep each other safe. But now, it’s been two years since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
What has happened to us?
On the surface, we may look mostly the same. Perhaps we’re several pounds heavier because we haven’t moved as much in the last couple years, or because our favorite foods were the only comfort we could find some days. Perhaps our hair has changed – Did anyone else cut their own bangs during that first month of lockdown?
On the outside, we may look the same, but on the inside, we are hurting. And our day-to-day lives and experiences may have changed drastically.
Of the effects of COVID-19 on young adults, the Center for Disease Control says, “Beyond getting sick, many young adults’ social, emotional and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage may have long-term consequences across their lifespan.”
Below, we have broken down the ways your lifestyle may have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you think about to slowly shift back to your old way of living – or to transition into a new way of thinking.
How to Understand and Navigate the Lifestyle Effects of COVID-19
- Increased health anxiety.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a time of increased health anxiety among many demographics. Health anxiety is “the preoccupation with having or developing a serious illness – whether that’s COVID-19, cancer, HIV, or something else,” according to health anxiety expert Casey Gueren. During the height of the pandemic, a healthy amount of health anxiety kept us safe. But that excessive worrying does us more harm than good. Seeking out resources related to reducing health anxiety can help you think more logically about health risks.
- Changes to travel habits and desires.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly everyone reduced or completely eliminated travel, both near and far. Now that the pandemic is easing and potentially becoming endemic, people are slowly returning to travel. The CDC provides travel recommendations by destination that are updated frequently. If you’re itching to get back to adventuring, you’re not alone! Just be impeccable in your planning and reduce risks wherever you can.
- Employment or educational changes and challenges.
At the beginning of the pandemic, institutions of higher education immediately shifted to virtual learning to stop the spread of COVID-19. College students everywhere lost out on the college experience, from work-study opportunities to residence hall living. And millions of people were laid off or furloughed unexpectedly. Others have had trouble finding and maintaining employment. These are extraordinary circumstances that may have had a negative impact on your well-being. Whether you are still in school, working from home, a frontline worker or healthcare worker, or considering joining the group of workers taking part in the Great Resignation, you are not alone in your struggles.
- Consistently high level of stress.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have experienced a loss of safety and security, whether related to a job loss, loss of wages, inconsistent access to food, unsafe transportation, unstable housing, or otherwise. Those challenges may lead to consistently high levels of stress, even if your life has returned to a more stable point since those experiences occurred. Stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, and quarantines have left us more socially isolated than ever, and we have to prioritize what matters most as we rebuild our lives and take our next steps into the future.
. . .
The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone. And if you work on the front lines, whether in healthcare, schools, the service industry, or another area, you are likely simply exhausted. By acknowledging that our lives may have changed drastically in the last couple of years, we can start rebuilding toward a brighter tomorrow.