In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic many people still struggle to transition to a new normal. With the combination of extensive isolation from quarantine and the stress of the social unrest that came towards the end of the pandemic, many are still experiencing lasting effects.

One notable figure who has spoken out about her struggles is the former first lady Michelle Obama. During the pandemic she started a podcast called “The Michelle Obama Podcast ” where she often spoke about her thoughts on the state of the country and how she personally was dealing with quarantine.

She expressed her frustration with the administration at the time, as well as her disappointment with Americans who seemed tired of following safety protocols if COVID didn’t directly affect them. The added societal unrest caused by the George Floyd murder was another factor in what caused her depressive symptoms, as she described feeling disheartened with the country.

When discussing her symptoms she noted things like feeling emotional highs and lows, persistent worry and trouble sleeping. Dr. Sullivan, the psychiatry and behavioral sciences chairman at Staten Island University Hospital, cited that a person who experienced both a biological predisposition as well as triggering environmental factors—as typically more at risk for developing depression. While much of the population felt this way given the circumstances during COVID it is still important to talk about mental health beyond the pandemic, as daily struggles can contribute to feelings of depression just as much as major life events.

Some things the first lady shared that were helping her get through tough times, included “staying in a routine, getting a workout in, trying to get outside.” In order to overcome mental health issues it is always good to reach out to a professional if the feelings become overwhelming, but daily self-care is important too. Whether it is making a positive change in your routines, improving your diet or taking time to do things that you love every day it is the small steps that can lead to big changes. (This article was contributed by Rollins College Clinical Psychology student, Shannon Caicedo)

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