(dealing w/ depression and anxiety)
In these changing times, it is important to keep tabs on the mental health of you and your loved ones. “Mental health issues have been a growing concern over the past decade,” said Catherine Langdon, licensed professional counselor at ThedaCare Behavioral Health in Menasha. “Now, it is expected there will be an even greater number of people seeking treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma or adjustment disorders coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Let’s KEEP CALM and take control of fearful and anxious thoughts during this crisis. Everyone has their own ability to cope, it just depends on the person. Try these strategies with me to help reduce the possibility of being depressed or struggling with anxiety.
Take deep breaths. Your physical body, including your brain, relaxes with every inhale and exhale. Deep breaths oxygenate the body, creating not only calmness but also energy to give the motivation you need to move forward in a right-minded way.
Think positive. Reframe negative thoughts to be more positive. It is important to acknowledge how you are feeling while challenging any irrational or unhelpful thought patterns. Recall happy times from the past, especially when you overcame a challenge. Be grateful for what you have in the present, the basics: shelter, food, good health, or a phone call you received from a friend. And then visualize the good life you will have in the future, beyond the crisis.
Focus on mindfulness meditation. It is the practice of simply “being”. Step away from any distractions and sit still. Breathe deeply and become aware of your present thoughts. Studies have shown it helps ease depression, chronic pain, and anxiety.
Stay structured. Control what you can: your wake/sleep schedule, shower time, eating plan and exercise routine. Because anxiety comes from a fear of the unknown, it’s important for people to focus on what they can control.
Realize self-care. Take care of yourself. Studies have shown that healthy eating, exercise, deep sleep and social interactions — even if it’s just a phone call or video chat — diminish stress. If social media makes you feel anxious or annoyed, avoid social media.
Connect creatively. Despite the social distancing and self-isolation measures everyone needs to take, stay connected through video chats (think FaceTime and Skype) and phone calls. Even the most introverted person needs some socialization. Connect virtually with family and friends – in small groups or one-on-one.
For after-hours help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline – (800) 985-5990 – is a 24/7 crisis counseling and support line option for people experiencing emotional distress.