“The New Normal” and Mental Health

“The New Normal” and Mental Health

It is hard to believe that it has been over eighteen months since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the globe. It has taken us all by storm, and we are still not sure what the long-term effects will be. With the pandemic continuing to be unpredictable and largely uncharted territory, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all that we do not know or understand. How exactly has COVID-19 and the new Delta variant affected mental health, and how can we focus on not only healthcare, but also self-care?  

When COVID-19 first hit, the mental health of the general public suffered. The CDC reported that an astounding 40.9% of the US population had anxiety or depressive symptoms because of the pandemic. Despite the year of stress and uncertainty, things seemed to start looking up with the release of the vaccinations. Restrictions were lifted; we started to socialize more when it was safe, we were able to grab coffee with friends and visit with loved ones. It seemed like everything was getting back to pre-COVID normal. 

Now, with the rise of the more contagious Delta variant, people are starting to fear going out again. This extreme emotional switch between optimism and worry was dubbed “pandemic flux syndrome” by the Washington Post. Our tentative freedom was restricted again. Some businesses started to require proof of vaccination in order to enter; offices pushed back to working from home.  

So, what is this doing for mental health? 

This prolonged pandemic stress is leaving people to feel less in control, more aggravated, and depressed. Anxiety symptoms are starting to return to people in full force. However, it’s possible to make it through and come out the other side mentally stronger. Here are some tips for practicing self-care and improving your mental wellbeing: 

Mental Health Means a Moving Body 

We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but it also has a positive impact on your mental well-being. This is called the “runner’s high”. By breaking out into a sweat and pumping some iron, or by sprinting around in circles like you are five years old again, endorphins are released and help improve your mood. Even a little bit of exercise can go a long way. It can be as simple as a short walk or a quick 10-minute stretch. Working out also distracts your mind from worries, boosts your confidence, and helps you cope with stress in a healthy way.

Practice Mindfulness 

 Practicing mindfulness is one of the easiest ways to bring more joy into your daily life. Mindfulness helps you slow down and appreciate what you have around you. Start your days off by meditating on something small like breathing deeply before getting out of bed, or just writing about ten things you are thankful for during the day. It’s easy to get caught up in memories of the past or worry about the future, but mindfulness brings us back to the present moment. 

Eating healthy has a myriad of benefits for both body and mind.

Fuel Your Body to Boost Your Mood 

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help improve your mood and promote cognitive function. A healthy diet includes everything from leafy greens and berries to beans, whole grains, lean protein and, yes, even healthy fats. However, it’s best to avoid processed foods since they are high in refined sugars.  

Our brains and guts are connected- what affects one affects the other. A healthy gut biome leads to improved cognitive function and a lifted mood. Foods and drinks high in both prebiotics and probiotics are great for balancing gut and mental health. This includes onions, kombucha, yogurt, garlic, bananas, and more!  

Connecting with nature helps alleviate stress and encourages a reset of the day.

Get Outside 

Research suggests that exposure to natural environments leads to a decline in anxiety levels. Getting outside means going for a walk, starting a small garden, or just basking in the sun. Spending at least 120 minutes (about 2 hours) outside per week greatly improves mental well-being. If you live in a climate that makes it harder to spend time outside, you can substitute with Vitamin D supplements, or special lighting in your home.  

Start a new hobby 

Maybe baking your own sourdough loaves didn’t last long during the first wave of the pandemic, but finding a new hobby is a great way to cope with stress and even help you find a new community to socialize with online. Painting, photography, listening to music or learning how to play an instrument are all creative hobbies that can help improve mental health and stress coping skills.  

The new Delta variant has left us all feeling unsure about the future, but with some self-care techniques, it’s completely possible for all of us to thrive through this challenge and build our resilience.  

We want to hear from you. What has been your experience with coping with COVID-19 or the new Delta variant? Do any of these suggestions resonate with you? 

PrEP: The History of the HIV Preventative Medicine

PrEP: The History of the HIV Preventative Medicine

In the early 1980s, a new disease emerged that would come to be known as HIV. The virus was spread primarily by sexual contact and/or sharing needles with an infected person. At first, it seemed like everyone who had been exposed to the virus developed AIDS and died shortly after exposure. By the end of 1985, every region in the world had reported at least one case of AIDS, with 20,303 cases in total. However, through research, scientists eventually discovered how to slow down or even stop the progression of HIV into AIDS if they were treated quickly enough. This led to a medication called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) being made available for all those who needed it in order to prevent them from getting sick in the future. 

In 2012, the FDA approved Truvada as a preventative of HIV. Fifty-four percent of the eligible population were able to start receiving treatment. The drug was originally developed to treat people who were already infected, but it proved so successful in preventing the virus that it quickly became a new form of treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) followed the FDA’s approval and began recommended PrEP as a way to prevent contracting HIV. By 2018, multiple countries including Canada, Australia, the United States, and countries within the European Union were all making PrEP available to the public. In January 2020, California became the first state to allow pharmacists to dispense PrEP without a doctor’s prescriptions, as long as certain clinical criteria of the individual were met. This allows at-risk individuals to receive treatment quicker. 

Unfortunately, PrEP is vastly underused by those who would benefit from it. A systematic review found that awareness about prevention drugs like PrEP is low, but individuals were receptive when presented with information from doctors and health care professionals.

PrEP has been shown to be effective at reducing the risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%. PrEP typically consists of a daily pill that must be taken following potential exposure, or in anticipation of possible exposure. To ensure safety, one should take their PrEP every day as directed by their doctor or physician to reduce risk and protect oneself from HIV infection. Unfortunately, PrEP is vastly underused by those who would benefit from it. A systematic review found that awareness about prevention drugs like PrEP is low, but individuals were receptive when presented with information from doctors and health care professionals. Common barriers include lack of communication between patients and their doctor, stigma or shame associated with taking these medications which can lead to some not wanting them, even if they will protect against disease transmission, and the cost of prescriptions being too high for the general public.

The introduction of PrEP to the market for HIV prevention has been met with some controversy, especially over its cost and the disparities in availability and access. Some organizations have embraced it as part of their strategy against AIDS. Different programs throughout the US have aimed at reducing the spread of HIV by using PrEP. The treatment’s controversies mainly stem from the soaring prices that make access to this life-saving medication difficult.

Within the United States, a 30-day supply of Truvada can cost upwards of $2,000. This pricing makes it difficult for many of the at-risk individuals who need PrEP. Fortunately, TIN Rx is working to make this life-changing medication more accessible and affordable for everyone. We do this by using Generic Truvada instead of brand name and therefore can save you hundreds of dollars on a 30-day supply. Generic Truvada has the same effectiveness as the brand name but at a fraction of the cost. Our monthly prescription of Generic Truvada is only $79.95, plus you can order it in the comfort of your own home and have it delivered right to your door. This US-made, FDA-approved generic PrEP prescription has already become a success by helping thousands of individuals across the nation. PrEP is for adolescents and adults, as long as they are above 75 pounds and are already HIV negative. PrEP is also for those who have a sexual partner who has HIV, or for those who have not consistently worn a condom with new or changing partners.  

At TIN Rx, we want to lessen the worries of individuals at risk of contracting HIV. We believe this life-saving medication should be more affordable and more obtainable to all of those who need it. We are here to provide you with the affordable PrEP option that Big Pharma companies refuse to offer the public. Our PrEP program requires no insurance, plus we provide ongoing doctor support during your prescription. All that is needed to begin your prescription is to fill out our form, and we will send a free at-home HIV test kit and set you up with one of our TIN Rx partnered doctors for a free consultation.  

Do you think you might be a candidate for PrEP? Learn more about how TIN Rx can help you take control of your health.