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  • Patricia Faust

How Do We Respond to the Reopening of America?


It has been a few months now since we first learned of the pandemic of Coronavirus. Even though it doesn’t look like we are experiencing a slowdown of the virus, people are getting desperate to work again and receive a paycheck. Although understandable, how dangerous is this? We understand that we are fighting an invisible foe and yet we think that if we can’t see it - we won’t get it.

Our response to the pandemic is product of our race, age, socioeconomic status, where you live, and whether or not there are children in the house. For many who don’t understand the danger of COVID-19, they probably haven’t been touched personally by the loss of life in family and friends. But there are others who terrified of the consequences that the opening of America could bring. For them, their sense of security in everyday life has vanished.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness observes Mental Health Awareness Month throughout May. Researchers at Michigan State University counsel and teach about wellness, resiliency and support for vulnerable populations. In this crisis they see the typical response of an increase in stress, anxiety, depression, substance use and post-traumatic stress disorder. Their focus in research is to help us understand that there are things that we can do to help ourselves. We do have some control in this uncontrollable situation.

Skills We Can Use to Help Us Get Through This Crisis

We can practice skills rooted in stress management, mindfulness and self-compassion. It is important for all of us to recognize that this is truly a stressful situation. Setting up a routine of exercise, eating right, and regulating sleep will strengthen your body and your mind to manage these stressors.

We need to practice self-kindness. Draw on your background experience to know that you can survive this. Use the tools you learned in the past to get you through this critical time. Believe that you can get through this – it is within your power. Doubting your abilities with thoughts that you cannot do this only makes your situation worse. Talking to yourself in a calm reassuring manner will reduce anxiety.

Distance yourself from your thoughts. For example – when experiencing an anxious thought, notice it, name it, then release it. You don’t need to buy in to the thought; instead, stay focused on the present moment. (The Conversation, May 12, 2020)

Jumping into the future causes unnecessary worry – there are no knowns about the future, and you would be wasting your time worrying about it. You only have knowledge and control about the here and now.

Do yourself a big favor and reduce the amount of media you take in. We have 24/7 access to everything – all news and stories good and bad. This raises our fear level to an uncontrollable range. We don’t need to be obsessed about things we cannot control. We need to be aware of what we need to do but we don’t have to fall through the rabbit hole of news coverage.

So, as you start to venture outside your home and start to see other people, keep common sense topmost in your mind. We don’t know what will happen next, but we can fortify our resilience and mental health. Believe that you can manage your way through the coronavirus. Stay in the here and now and stay mentally and physically healthy.

Reference

Finkelstein, C., Johnson, J., Felton, J. (May 12, 2020). As reopening begins in uncertain coronavirus times, you need emotional protective equipment, too. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/as-reopening-begins-in-uncertain-coronavirus-times-you-need-emotional-protective-equipment-too-137695?utm_medium=email&utm_c....

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