How to Turn the Pandemic Pivot Into a Positive
By Martha Michael
If you were ever under the strict instruction of a ballet master, you probably learned how to pivot and pirouette while remaining upright … and with attitude. But as many people found out during the pandemic, pivotal changes in real life circumstances rarely feel like the graceful turn of a prima ballerina.
Did you have to make a pivot, either personal, professional, or emotional? Are you in the process of doing it now?
For many Americans, the pandemic became a pivot point -- a shift in lifestyle, career, or calling. For some, it was a welcome 180-degree turnabout while others were forced to regroup.
From challenges in childcare and joblessness to feelings of loneliness and isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the mental health of people across the globe. In addition to the grief that some experienced due to more than 4 million deaths worldwide from the disease, a survey last year by Medical News Today reveals there were other alarming outcomes as well.
About 1 in 4 respondents said they had trouble with concentration, one-third experienced excessive worry, and 43 percent reported feeling “nervous, anxious or on edge.”
More recent findings show an increase in depression. The number of people reporting feelings of depression tripled during the pandemic, according to Medical News Today, and a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 42 percent of Americans are battling anxiety or depression.
More than one-third of Americans changed employers or lost their jobs during the pandemic, according to an article in Fortune. The shift in employment was a record high, second to 1997 when 13 percent of workers found jobs with another company.
Impact on Your Health
A career change was just one of many pivots during the coronavirus shutdown. People made lifestyle changes, from reflecting on their level of community involvement to ramping up a commitment to exercise. There are benefits, of course, to new starts but change typically comes with a helping of emotional challenges.
An article on WebMD talks about the effects of altering your course, noting that you can end up with physical challenges due to stress.
When going through a change in circumstances, watch for these symptoms:
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Trouble with digestion
Some of these reactions can cause serious health problems. Be aware of how you’re handling the changes in your life and seek help when necessary.
Healthy Living Pivot Response
While people were adjusting to their circumstances over the last year and a half, the University of Illinois, Chicago was developing a strategy to promote resilience moving forward. HL-PIVOT is an acronym for Healthy Living for Pandemic Event Protection, a network created by the applied health sciences department to promote better quality of life. The coronavirus crisis illuminated the advantages that healthier people have in recovering from personal and medical challenges. Building strength and vitality will better prepare members of a population to endure losses and fight the onset of medical problems.
An article on the University’s website offers a reminder that COVID-19 is just one of the significant health conditions that plague people across the planet. The list includes:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory disease
The plan proposes a pivot in healthy living choices by inspiring individuals to make some measure of improvement in diet, exercise, and smoking cessation, among other behaviors. Research provides evidence linking appropriate body weight and higher levels of activity to overall wellness, but the bar is often set too high and the average person gives up. HL-PIVOT wants to change the messaging from all-or-nothing to a lower stress model for boosting your health in whatever way you can. The program communicates to the public that making even small changes can make you better prepared for transitions that occur in life.
Working in collaboration with researchers and educators across the globe is one way to change the optics and create a culture of overall health and wellness in homes, schools, and the workplace. Resiliency is necessary whether you’re hit by physical problems or personal issues and your ability to handle life’s transitions affects your health in every way.
If you experienced a pandemic pivot -- either a deliberate move for the better or a sharp turn for the worse -- reach out for the help you need to maintain your mental health needs. Reconnecting with friends and family members is a good start. A therapist can offer feedback for relationship issues and a career counselor can give you guidance if you lost a job. Don’t wait to pick up the phone if you find you’re spiraling downward emotionally. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255.
For many Americans the worst damage from COVID-19 is over, but setbacks are part of life. You’ll be poised for the best possible outcome by staying on your toes, which means maintaining a healthy body weight, eating an optimum diet, and checking in with your own personal need for balance.
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