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Tips for Maintaining Mental Health During a Pandemic

18 April 2020 Covid19 Luray/Page County Shenandoah County Front Royal/Warren County Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News

On a recent episode (4/16/20) of The Valley Today, host Janet Michael had a conversation with Laura Walls, a Licensed Professional Counselor with Shenandoah Memorial Hospital’s Senior Outpatient Program; and Tiffany Markwood, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Winchester Medical Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services about maintaining your mental health in the midst of quarantines, social distancing and a health crisis.

They explained how their group/individual therapy and psychiatric care have transitioned from in-person to telehealth video and audio rather seamlessly for both new and existing patients. Tiffany and Laura stressed that when you combine a crisis such as COVID-19 with social isolation it can exacerbate underlying anxiety and depression. People who are already living a somewhat isolated life may struggle even more with the added stressors.

In the second segment of the show, the three talked about different real-life scenarios along with several tips and suggestions for coping with the stress and anxiety that comes with living through a health pandemic. Those included:

  • Mindfulness strategies
  • The power of reframing
  • Positive thinking and positive self-talk
  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Spirituality
  • Staying connected with others (while social distancing)
  • Limiting media input
  • Taking advantage of available online resources and apps
  • Getting outside (safely)
  • Physical activity
  • Find things to do — hobbies, projects
  • Maintaining good sleep
  • Find ways to help others
  • Look for and pay attention to positive news
  • Avoid unhealthy coping options such as alcohol/drug use and over eating

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 and the Crisis Text Line 741741 are both great resources for anyone REALLY struggling or considering self-harm.

They also offered suggestions for helping children deal with the uncertainties of the time:

  • If possible, help children stay connected to grandparents, family, friends/teachers virtually
  • Limit children’s access to media and news about COVID 19 pandemic
  • Use kid-friendly ways to explain viruses and safety measures
  • Help kids maintain sleep routines and physical activity and time spent outside
  • Look for outlets for creative expression
  • Give them opportunities to talk about their feelings
  • Build in ways to have fun

Tiffany also suggested this YouTube video that may help kids to understand the concept of social distancing. It’s called Time to Come in, Bear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DA_SsZFYw0w

For more information about Valley Health’s Behavioral Health services, visit their website: https://www.valleyhealthlink.com/our-services/behavioral-health-services/

To listen to their conversation, click here: https://theriver953.com/podcast/coping-with-mental-stress-during-a-health-pandemic/

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