As the world begins to emerge from COVID – well, at least some parts of the world – there is no denying the effects for many are lasting and the “new” normal is an adjustment for everyone (that is probably an understatement). If you are struggling post-COVID, we want you to *STOP* what you’re doing right now and give yourself a pop quiz on how to recognize the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering so you can determine if you – or a friend – could use a helping hand or someone to listen.
- Personality changes – Is “typical” behavior now atypical? Behavior that doesn’t seem to fit in with your values may be cause for concern.
- Uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated or moody – Issues with controlling tempers or the inability to calm down. At the extreme, you may experience explosive anger or sleepless nights.
- Withdrawal or isolation from others – No longer seeking the company of family and friends or taking part in regular social activities. Issues with attendance at work or school.
- May neglect self-care and engage in risky behavior – Deterioration of personal hygiene or lacking judgement. The abuse of alcohol or illegal substances. Engaging in self-destructive behavior that alienates friends and family.
- Overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by circumstances – Normally optimistic and now despondent and without hope. May be suffering from prolonged grief or feelings of worthlessness. In extreme cases, you may have thoughts of suicide.
At the most basic level, recognizing these Five Signs is the first and most important step. Sometimes it takes a friend or family member to observe these behaviors when you may not – or cannot – recognize them in yourself.
Reach out to the person who has you concerned and offer help – and hope. A shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen can often go a long way. Offer compassion and caring and know that you may need to offer more than once. Let them know you are there to stand by their side; they are not alone. Also, know there are a variety of resources that can help, including many educational tools offered by Give an Hour.
We probably won’t know for some time quite the toll COVID has taken on our lives and those we care about. But what we DO know is that if you are struggling, there is help and hope for those whose emotional well-being is suffering and by recognizing and facing the Five Signs head-on, we’ll all be better for it.