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Grace: The answer to improving mental health in unprecedented times

(EDITORIAL) Part of our brains are pondering how to emerge from a pandemic while the other part is worried about WW3. Give yourself (and others) grace.

Man sad and alone, representing imposter syndrome.

There is a need for grace. We are living in unprecedented times.

There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t been affected by current events. Whether it’s the loss of a job, a loved one, the loss of security, or even just a loss of hope, we have all experienced some kind of loss in the last two years. It feels like we’re in some type of spiral of never-ending uncertainty. We can’t even heal from the effects of COVID-19 on our society, as we are reminded that people are continuing to lose their lives to the pandemic and new strains pop up worldwide. People uprooted their jobs, their education, and their lives, with many having to put their dreams on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If that wasn’t uncertain enough, the war waged by Russia against Ukraine has left many, even those worlds away, feeling uneasy, as fuel prices rise, and the supply chains are further interrupted. While those are minor inconveniences compared to what many others in the world are going through, it serves as a reminder. Social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle keep us all aware and connected even as we try to disconnect. And while it’s good to know what’s going on in the world, it’s also anxiety-inducing because there isn’t an escape, any social media site we log on to (which we namely do to keep up with loved ones and forget the problems in our lives) is splashed with uncensored headlines of war, disease, and atrocities.

Every day, there is a new thing that has to occupy our minds, in addition to the everyday personal problems and stressors that already take up space in our heads. This pandemic has caused more mass trauma than World War II, according to the World Health Organization. This mass trauma, in turn, can negatively impact mental health and cause mental health issues to arise or worsen.

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We, as a society are feeling the effects of the pandemic, even two years later. The labor market faced The Great resignation and the highest inflation rate in four decades. Not to mention the increase in societal issues, such as the murder rate and fatal drug overdoses increasing at staggering rates.

Michele Oliver, a Podcaster and Career Coach with ten thousand followers on LinkedIn reminds her followers that it’s okay, it’s okay to feel the trauma, it’s okay if the best any of us can do is survive, and remind us we need to show grace to ourselves and others.

I am here to echo those sentiments. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel stressed, sad, or anxious. It’s also okay to feel happy even with so many distressing things going on. Everything will be okay eventually. In the meantime, we need to treat every person we encounter with kindness. Remember, high gas prices are not the fault of the gas station employees, the high prices and supply chain shortages are not the faults of the store clerks and the overcrowding of the hospitals is not the fault of the nurses, so show them extra kindness. They are likely overworked, burned out, and trying their best, as we all are.

Woman with face on table suffering burnout in front of computer.

But Covid rates are dropping, kids are back in school in person and many are returning back to offices. Health officials think COVID will reach endemic status sometime this year and will be treated much like the flu is. The truth is, we are slowly inching back to normal.

I know it can be difficult, as we all get so wrapped up in our own issues we often forget the problems of others, or that we’re all going through tough times as a society. So, show kindness and grace to not only yourselves but everyone you encounter. A lot has happened in the last two years, but we’re still all in this together.

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But, I hope we don’t go back to the old normal and instead, as a society, go towards a new normal, one where we value mental and physical health and treat people, and ourselves with kindness and grace.

Nicole is a recent graduate (okay fine, a recent-ish graduate) of Texas State University-San Marcos where she received a BA in Psychology. When she's not doing freelance writing, she's doing freelance Public Relations. When she's not working, she's hanging out with dogs or her friends - in that order. Nicole watches way too much Netflix and is always quoting The Office. She has an obsession with true crime and sloths.

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