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Coping with the “new normal”: How COVID-19 changes could impact mental health

Officials say the coming weeks are all about finding a “new normal”. But, there are some potential mental health challenges that could come with coping with this.


We’ve been told time and time again that things may not be going back to "normal", as we know it, any time soon. And that can be a tough pill to swallow. Adjusting to the “new normal” in the age of COVID-19 could turn out to be a challenge for some of us. 

We spoke with Monretta Vega, a Counselor with Huntsville Psychotherapy and Counseling Services about some of the challenges we might face when it comes to this next phase of the fight against COVID-19. She says, “We’re still working on the changes that have occurred currently. So, when we start to think about the future and possibly returning back to our sense of “norm”, there’s going to be some anxiety with that as well because we still are in limbo with a lot of what’s currently happening.” 

Madison County leaders have been discussing the possibility of reopening businesses and getting our economy back up and moving. But, that doesn’t mean everything will be back to the way it was-- overnight. 

Dr. Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, says during Wednesday's daily Madison County COVID-19 Update: “The CDC is now recommending pretty strongly cloth face coverings to minimize the virus' change of infecting others."

The adjustment to life with COVID-19 changes could be hard for some. Even after Alabama’s stay at home order is lifted. Vega says, “We have to expect that some anxiety and concerns will linger on pass this time.” 

With so much emphasis on social distancing and even hand signals to remind people to stay back, the thought of being back in public spaces could be daunting to say the least. Vega says, “We have to be mindful that we are going to have to adjust when it’s time to go back to what we may consider to be our normal lives.”

Even after social distancing restrictions are lessened, the threat still exists until a vaccine is available to the public. Monretta Vega tells us she’s heard concerns from her clients. She adds, “Personally and professionally, a lot of people are just voicing there concerns of ‘what are the long term effects of this?”... What does this look like after May?”  

She says just the sight of seeing others wearing masks and other PPE in public spaces could be a trigger. Vega says, “There are going to be some concerns and even some  paranoia associated with just the need to be cautious and aware.” 

Until then, Monretta Vega urges people to make the most out of the situation. She advises,  “We just want to continue to stay aware of the facts, remove ourselves sometimes from getting all of the news, take this time to take some time for yourself, relax and try to develop positive habits-- like a new hobby, self-care, or even trying something you've always wanted to try….”

One thing you can do is just remember that this is new territory for all of us. And all these steps -- the social distancing, masking and slowly reopening businesses--- are just bringing us closer to finding our way back to “normal”. 


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