Living through a pandemic is hopefully a once in a lifetime thing for most of us. Since we are all in unchartered waters, it creates a lot of stress and uncertainty during this time. Many of us are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, fearful and depressed. It’s certainly ok for us to have these feelings. I have witnessed it in my own family, with friends, co-workers and have even experienced it myself. We are all surviving and adapting as recommendations seem to change daily at times.
Dealing with this stress and the loneliness of isolation is hard for everyone. Know that you are not alone. Some people deal with the stress by withdrawing, while others may become moody or upset easily. Please know that these are normal reactions to what is going on in the world.
Learning to effectively cope with these emotions is important to getting through this. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has several recommendations to help cope during these uncertain times. One great way to cope is to be careful of where you are getting your information. Stick to information from credible sources such as The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or the Tennessee Department of Health. Watching the news constantly can lead to increased stress. Relying on social media outlets for news can result in a lot of misinformation or “fake” news that will incite panic in some. Please check all your sources before you share something with others.
Another good way to cope is to maintain your daily routine as much as possible. Many people may not be working or attending school as they normally would, but it’s important to get up at a reasonable time, go to bed at a reasonable time and try to make your day as normal as possible. Be active. Get outside while maintaining social distancing and enjoy outdoor activities. Sunshine does everyone good! Try to get some exercise while you’re out, or if it’s a rainy day there are tons of exercise videos to choose from on YouTube and other outlets. Exercise is great for your mental health!
Try practicing meditation or prayer in a quiet area. With many of the churches posting online church services, you can enjoy a church service anytime you wish from the comfort of your home. Find activities to keep you busy in your free time. Now would be a great time to take up that hobby you always wished you had time to do. Play puzzles or games, take an online course, or just use this time to get caught up on chores around your house.
It is also important to seek out social support and stay connected. Call or email friends and family members. You can also reach out to them virtually through FaceTime, Zoom meetings and various other apps and platforms. You will probably find out that they are struggling too and by sharing your feelings you can help each other.
Try to focus on things you can control. Try not worry about the what-ifs and take things one day at a time. None of us can predict the future, so we must take things as they come.
If you or someone you know is having trouble coping, and need help from an outside source, Tennessee has a crisis line available. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have seen an increase in the number of calls coming through to this line so know you are not alone. The Crisis Line number is 1-855-274-7471 or you can text TN to 741741. Please do not hesitate to call this number. There is help and hope for you.
Please continue to follow information only from credible sources. Henry County Medical Center has a website section devoted entirely to COVID-19 information. Visit www.hcmc-tn.org and click on Coronavirus Information. You will find links to the CDC website as well as the Tennessee Department of Health Website. We also have a dashboard updated daily with the number of COVID-19 patients in Henry County and the surrounding areas. Additionally, we have provided many mental health resources on our social media sites, too. As always, our LakeHaven Behavioral Unit is open to help treat anyone with a mental health crisis. Everyone please stay safe and practice social distancing. We will all get through this together!