Rhitu Chatterjee

Even before the federal government's recent decision last week to authorize COVID-19 boosters all adults, it had already recommended them in October for people with certain high-risk conditions. Along with with illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, that list included mental health conditions.

Of all the ways in which the pandemic has affected Americans' well-being, perhaps the one we've noticed least is how much we're sitting. And it's not just bad for our waistlines — it's hurting our mental health.

More than a year and a half of social distancing and work-from-home policies have led to less time moving around and more time sitting and looking at screens — it's a potentially toxic combination that's linked with poorer mental health.

Of all the sad statistics the U.S. has dealt with this past year and a half, here is a particularly difficult one: A new study estimates that more than 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or a grandparent caregiver to COVID-19. The majority of these children come from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Updated August 24, 2021 at 1:57 PM ET

Ever since Marty Parrish was 17, he has struggled with bouts of major depression.

"It tends to run in cycles," recalls the resident, now 58, of Johnston, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. "When I'm on medication, and medication is working, my symptoms are alleviated."

Think sweat is gross?

"It could have been so much worse," says Sarah Everts, the author of a new book called The Joy of Sweat, that is all about, you guessed it, the science of sweating.

Turns out human sweat — our body's air conditioning system — is really pretty tame on the "yuck" scale of animal cooling methods.

The pandemic has taken a massive toll on people's mental health. But a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many of us are seeing and feeling in our own lives: The impact has been particularly devastating for parents and unpaid caregivers of adults.

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With almost 40% of the U.S. fully vaccinated, many parts of this country are opening up, but not everybody is quite ready. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has been talking with psychologists about why.

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If you've been feeling burnt out lately, you are not alone. A recent survey of workers in more than 40 countries found that more than 60% reported they felt burnt out often or very often during the pandemic. Research shows that workplace burnout poses a serious risk to people's mental health. Our Life Kit team looked into this, and NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has some tips on how to know when you're burnt out and what to do about it.

RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: Work was relentless in 2020 for Diane Ravago. She's an EMT in California.

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If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

It was over a decade ago when Regina Crider's daughter first attempted suicide at age 10.

A bag of Doritos, that's all Princess wanted.

Her mom calls her Princess, but her real name is Lindsey. She's 17 and lives with her mom, Sandra, a nurse, outside of Atlanta. On May 17, 2020, a Sunday, Lindsey decided she didn't want breakfast; she wanted Doritos. So she left home and walked to Family Dollar, taking her pants off on the way, while her mom followed on the phone with police.

With COVID-19 cases still soaring across the U.S., it can be tempting to just ride the winter out on the couch, binging on Netflix. But psychologists say it's important in 2021 for us all to keep up human contact.

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