Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/28/2020 --Maintaining solid emotional and psychological footing during a pandemic is difficult. It's normal to feel new, and often intense emotions.
Morissa Henn, a Community Health Director from Intermountain Healthcare, said, "There are many strategies that you can use to help prevent and manage fear, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other feelings. There are no 'one size fits all' answers. Everyone comes from a different place; the important part is to find what works for you."
Henn suggests finding ways to stay active and connect (even if virtually) to process one's feelings.
"There are many free and paid apps downloadable to a phone or device that can help with mindfulness practice, de-stressing, addressing depression and anxiety, and much more," said Henn. She suggested the following:
- myStrength app. Find helpful COVID-19 related information such as: Using grounding to pause and find your way forward, finding inner calm in turbulent times, managing overwhelming thoughts, keeping perspective in a crisis, keeping relationships strong, and many more. Free access has been made available by the State of Utah using code UDHSguest33.
- Behavioral healthcare providers are available to see patients during this time, and many have expanded access via telehealth or other secure conferencing applications.
Physical activity can also have a positive impact on mental health. "It can relieve stress, improve sleep, and improve overall well-being," said Kathryn Richards, community health specialist at Intermountain. With many gyms and parks closed, it is important to find creative ways to add physical activity to your day." Richards suggests:
- Set an alarm on your phone at regular intervals to remind yourself to get up and move around. Take a quick walk outside around the block.
- Coordinate with friends or family to do a "steps" challenge to compete for the highest number of steps in a designated time frame.
- Pump your favorite music and take 5 minutes to dance every day (even if alone!).
"We have been asked to 'socially distance,' but should not socially disconnect," said Richards. "Stay in touch with friends and family in unique ways. Utilize video chats to have fun and interactive visits with family and friends. Share strategies with one another that you are using to stay positive." Richards also suggests "drive by" visits where you can drive by and wave from the car or driveway while staying socially distanced. "Window messages of encouragement to other neighbors passing by can also be fun and uplifting."
You can also provide service to others while keeping distance. Help others by running to the grocery store if they can't go out or providing other services such as mowing a lawn or weeding flowerbeds."
"Take opportunities to reduce stress and anxiety whenever you can," said Henn "There are many unknowns right now – how long will we be social distancing, work disruptions, financial uncertainties, and many others." Henn suggests some steps to reduce stress and anxiety helping us feel more grounded despite the uncertainty.
- Limit exposure to media around the pandemic. Find a balance between being informed and watching 24 hours a day. Follow reliable sources, such as the CDC.
- Use focused meditation and relaxation. Turn off digital devices and media coverage and enjoy at least 10 minutes of thoughtful meditation. (Utilize an app as suggested above to help guide your meditation if desired.)
- Set and keep a schedule, go to bed and wake up at regular times, and keep your work or school routine as close to normal as possible.
- Keep in mind the activities you normally love doing that can be continued.
- Include time in your daily schedule for yourself to decompress is also important,"
Most important, control what you can control. You can make cleanliness a priority. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched. Keep focused on what you can control at this time, which includes staying at home and staying safe."
Keep things in perspective This is a strange and unprecedented time, but things will return to normal eventually. Keeping things in perspective can help you to make good decisions and take care of yourself and others. Remember the airplane rule: put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.
"Which leads to asking for help when you need it," concludes Richards. "Changes in our lifestyles such as working from home, home-schooling children, and not being able to physically visit with friends or family can be challenging. If you become overwhelmed and feel like your thoughts or actions have become debilitating, please know that it is ok to ask for help. That help can be as simple as asking a friend or neighbor to pick something up for you at the store next time they go or reaching out for assistance in finding mental health support services.
Individuals feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, are encouraged to reach out to a professional for help. In Utah, you can call or go to:
- Your primary care provider or pediatrician
- The COVID-19 Emotional Health Relief Line 1-833-442-2211
- The Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- A behavioral health provider for a telehealth appointment
- For emergency childcare 2-1-1
- For support regarding an alcohol or drug problem 2-1-1\
"It's important to keep grounded and take care of yourself both mentally and physically during these unusual times," said Henn. "We want to help everyone live the healthiest lives possible, which includes mental well-being."
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org or the Intermountain Healthcare Blog.