BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Alabama hit a grim COVID-19 milestone with more deaths this year than in all of 2020.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is reporting 7,283 COVID-related deaths as of Monday. That’s now 95 more than all of 2020.

Health officials at UAB hospital are concerned about people’s physical and mental health as the pandemic continues.

UAB Clinical Psychologist Dr. Megan Hays said a lot of us were hopeful this summer with easier access to vaccines and lower cases and deaths, but with the start of Delta came yet another layer of the pandemic.

This impacts us physically and mentally from things like weight fluctuations and insomnia to more elevated emotions like anger and stress.

Hays said we need to normalize the fact that the pandemic has been wearing on us for so long, validate that anger is normal and to try not to bottle those emotions up inside.

“When we judge ourselves for those emotions, we end up ultimately feeling worse. I kind of phrase it as you’re adding a layer of suffering to pain that is inevitable,” Hays said. “A lot of us are in pain. You don’t have to add to add that layer of suffering to yourself.”

Strategies like deep breathing to calm down the nervous system, taking a walk or yoga and meditation can all help to clear your mind, according to Hays. She said it’s also important to find things to be thankful for from the pandemic.

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