Mental and spiritual health after COVID-19: Stress, depression and anxiety

Not feeling normal is completely normal as we emerge from the last two years

It’s hard to believe the world has struggled with the COVID-19 virus and its variants for over two years now. From quarantine to vaccines, to isolation and upheaval, it’s no wonder we just don’t feel “normal.” Mental health after COVID-19 is complicated, and many people need help.

“We were seeing a rise in the need for mental health care even before the lockdown in 2020,” said Nicole Ryan, DNP, APRN, a nurse practitioner with Norton Behavioral Medicine. “Post-COVID-19 stress disorder has emerged as a real issue for people.”

Here are some things to try and ideas to consider.

What to do if you feel depressed or anxious

“There are lots of things you can do on your own at home that can help boost your mental health,” Nicole said.

Here’s a short (not exhaustive) list of things you can do to help yourself feel better:

  • General preventive wellness: See your primary care provider and any specialists (dentist, OB/GYN, etc.) for yearly checkups.
  • Good sleep: Chronic lack of sleep can contribute to depression and anxiety, so be sure to get a solid eight hours a night.
  • Basic hygiene: If you are not bathing regularly, doing laundry so you have clean clothing or brushing your teeth, that could be a signal of depression.
  • Meditation: This is an age-old beneficial coping skill that can be done almost anywhere, anytime. There are also smartphone apps, books and free resources online for meditation.
  • Journaling: Writing things down can get the thoughts out of our heads so they don’t interfere with our lives.
  • Nutrition: Eating a healthy balanced diet helps our mood.

Community and spirituality

Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the last two years of uncertainty and upheaval extends beyond our physical bodies and well into the emotional and spiritual realms, too.

Norton Behavioral Medicine


“Spiritual care works in harmony with physical care to help us feel stable, balanced, and happy,” said the Rev. Amy C. Helwig, M.Div., MAMFT, a chaplain with Norton Healthcare.

The past two years of quarantines and isolation have kept people from participating in so many of the activities they had been doing, including religious services, volunteering and social gatherings.

“This takes its toll,” Amy said.

Chaplains like Amy can serve as spiritual counselors, but they are also bridges to other resources such as individual coaching, work-life balance, and financial well-being.

Getting help with mental health

“There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health,” Nicole said. “But one of the benefits of the last two years has been the expansion of access to mental health resources.”

Many mental health counselors are available via online/video chat or phone call. Many employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP), which provide free or reduced-cost mental health services.

“Just talking to someone helps,” said Nicole. “Family, a friend, your primary care doctor – reaching out in whatever way feels comfortable will be beneficial.”

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