Happiness Should Not Be Elusive During the Pandemic

In the October 2020 issue of the JAMA Psychiatry journal, Christine Moutier, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, authored an article about the concerns that mental health professionals have expressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 a global outbreak, suicide rates have increased in many countries despite efforts taken to improve the effectiveness of national suicide prevention programs.

Great fear and overall uncertainty about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have exacerbated feelings of anxiety, dysphoria, apathy, and depression for millions of people all around the world. In the United States, an April survey about mental health and substance abuse determined that 21% of Americans who heeded self-quarantine and isolation orders felt that the pandemic was exerting a detrimental effect on their emotional being. By July 2020, the percentage of survey respondents feeling the blues had increased to 53%.

The pursuit of happiness is a tenet of the American way of life, and it has never been more important than today. There is no question that we are living in trying times, and this is why we need to focus on strategies to mitigate the negative effects that the pandemic can exert on our lives; to this effect, here are two recommendations we can reasonably follow:

Turning to Spirituality

For thousands of years, people have turned to religion and spirituality to fulfill many of their emotional needs, but we tend to conflate these two important aspects of life. Religion is doctrine and dogma while spirituality is what gives our lives meaning. All religions are based on spirituality, but we tend to pay more attention to doctrine because it appears to be more accessible.

According to the founder of V1 Church in New York City, spirituality deserves more attention than it routinely gets. If you feel that your church does not satisfy your quest for spiritual meaning, consider reading The Book of Joy, a very enjoyable collection of writings by Nobel Prize laureates who explain the roots of spirituality in warm and colorful ways.

Making Smart Use of Technology for Stress Relief

Days before the highly anticipated U.S. general election, many employers noticed that productivity was dropping as anxiety and stress levels kept rising in the workplace. In light of this situation, health benefits providers launched mobile apps for employees interested in guided relaxation sessions. These apps work on the principle of mindfulness, which behavioral researchers have determined to be highly conducive to relaxation.

One of the most popular relaxation apps currently in use by health benefits providers is Calm, which focuses on meditation, mindfulness, and sleep. Sattva and Headspace are similar apps for Android and iOS devices. The way these apps work is pretty simple: Users follow instructions related to deep breathing, stretching, and thought organization. As long as you are willing to follow the instructions and commit to a relaxation program, these apps can help to expand your mindfulness, thus making it easier for you to manage stress and be able to relax when you really need to.