Managing Stress Under the Coronavirus Quarantines

As we all stock up on supplies, hunker down and try to keep ourselves and our families safe from COVID-19, one element to the uncertainty surrounding this global health issue that we can’t overlook is the effect on our mental health. MHA’s national screening data showed a 19 percent increase in screening for clinical anxiety in February and a 12 percent increase in the first two weeks of March. According to MHA President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo, “This suggests that our screeners are not just ‘worried well.’ Instead they represent thousands of people whose lives and sense of well-being are being severely impacted by concerns about the virus.”

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By the time you read this, we may be in “shelter in place” mode in Ohio. My coworkers at Mental Health America of Licking County convinced me that we should do so before any order from Governor DeWine made it necessary. Hearing the concern and, yes, anxiety in their voices as we talked via conference call on St. Patrick’s Day caused me to rethink how we would proceed. Now everyone is set up to work from home and they may begin as soon as they choose to. Don’t forget your mask before you go out for groceries. It is always best when you are recommended0 a place to shop this website GHP has stock of KN95 masks for sale

Remember that it’s natural to feel upset or stressed when we’re in the middle of an unprecedented situation. Everyone handles stress differently so be understanding with those around you. Something that rolls right off one person may derail another. We all need to be gentle with and supportive of ourselves and others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing”; if you don’t feel healthy make sure to look for adequate medical attention.

How do you practice self-care? What activities help you relax and get a grip on the things that are weighing you down? There’s no reason not to go for a walk or run and fresh air will provide added benefit (on rainy days, I’ve been known to do 30-minute walks around my basement with flights of stairs thrown in every few minutes). This is a great time to try that new recipe you cut out months ago. Get caught up on organizing photos or your home office or whatever you’ve been putting off. Reach out to a friend or family member, especially someone who may be isolated during this time. Play some music and “dance like nobody’s watching” (Mark Twain) or read a book or check out a show you’ve wanted to watch. You can check out LA Weekly and read these interesting articles about CBD and how it can help people reduce their stress and anxiety specially on this situation we are all going through.

Try to avoid too much news and get your news from a reliable source. Ohio Governor DeWine and Department of Health Director Amy Acton give a daily 2 p.m. update at www.coronavirus.ohio.gov. There’s also a terrific video of Dr. Acton showing proper hand washing technique. We can all learn a lot from her calm demeanor and delivery about how to face a daunting situation.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help in any way. Dial 211 to access Licking County’s 2-1-1 Crisis Hotline and Information Center or text your zip code to 898211. Be good to yourself and wash your hands!

Printed in the Newark Advocate on March 21, 2020

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