This week Dear Bernard’s guest columnist and licensed psychologist Jon Davies offers tips on persevering your well-being through the next six months of the pandemic.
Have you been feeling frustrated, irritable, anxious, lonely, depressed or even hopeless? Are you worried about your health or that of your kids or other loved ones? Are you worried about money? You are not alone.
Many Americans and people all over the world are experiencing a wide range of emotions, ranging from boredom and mild worry to serious depression and panic. This pandemic is a traumatic event that is having a great impact on the emotional health of everyone.
JON DAVIES, PH.DMENTAL HEALTH
The good news is that help is on the way. Schools in our area are expected to begin the reopening process soon, taking some pressure off parents and providing our children with greater learning opportunities as well as social connection. Many counselors, counseling centers and other social support organizations have adapted their services so that they can be accessed online. What’s most exciting is that we now have vaccines to protect us from the virus, which appear to be safe and effective. Most of us will have an opportunity to be vaccinated within the next six months.
The hard news is that at a time when many of us are feeling COVID fatigue and/or simply overwhelmed, we have to continue to be vigilant during the next six months in keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe through social distancing and following the recommendations of our health experts. To do this, we must also pay attention to our emotional as well as our physical health. My goal is to provide some tips for maintaining emotional health during this time.
Lower stress: Explore the triggers of your stress and find tools that help lower it.
Get out in nature: Visit the wonderful parks we have in Lane County.
Be social (safely): To reduce isolation, reach out to friends, family and other supportive groups. Many organizations, religious entities and support groups are now available online.
Reclaim your goal or purpose: Discover what motivates you to get up in the morning. Take care of yourself so that you can help others.
Use your mind/become mindful: Meditate, pray and engage in positive self-talk. Talk to yourself as if you were trying to encourage/support a child.
Develop realistic expectations: During this pandemic, most people are having a difficult time achieving their daily and long-term goals. Set goals you are reasonably confident you will achieve. Have patience with yourself.
Accept the new normal: Things may never go back to the way they were; however, we will develop a new normal that can be equally fulfilling.
Seek help: Being an adult does not mean being totally independent! “Adulting” can be having the wisdom to know when you need the help of others and the courage to ask.
When to get help? When emotional distress is hurting your relationships with others or your job performance, if you are struggling with abusing drugs or alcohol, if you are having thoughts about being harmful to yourself or others, and any time you feel you need it.
Where to get help? There are many organizations that provide emotional support in our area. Here are a few important resources:
-Center for Community Counseling offers individual counseling to adults as well as groups for families during distance learning and school reintegration. Call 541-344-0620 or visit ccceugene.org
-Parenting support: Parenting Now (parentingnow.org); WellMama (wellmamaoregon.com)
Davies is a 30-year resident of Springfield. In addition to his duties at the Center for Community Counseling, he has also worked at the University of Oregon Counseling and Testing Center.
NEXT: Ways in which gender can play a role in how we react to the pandemic.