COVID-19 Isn’t Just a Physical Threat – It’s an Emotional One, Too

by Sara Paulson, Health First 

Yes, this public health crisis is unnerving.

But you have the tools you need to boost your mental wellness right now.

Sure, we know it’s important to do our part to protect ourselves against COVID-19 – hand washing, social distancing, mask-wearing and more. We get that.

But then there’s the mental health toll the pandemic has unleashed.

For months, COVID-19 has left many of us feeling drained. We’re dealing with all kinds of anxiety, stress and even fear. Some of us, quite frankly, feel hopeless – that we have no control. However, what we can control is our mindset, if we work coping skills into the fold of our daily lives.

One strategy is finding the time to relax, which is an extremely important element in mental and physical health,” said De Ann Collins, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Program Manager at Health First’s Senior Behavioral Wellness Intensive Outpatient program. “Start by scheduling one or two minutes a day to just focus on breathing.”

It’s a simple task that can reap plenty of rewards – not just during this public health crisis, but for any situation that might be adding stress to daily life. Consciously being aware of breathing and focusing solely on that can be soothing and invigorating. Just carve out a little quiet time and have at it.

As this becomes more comfortable, start to extend the amount of time, gradually working up to five or 10 minutes,” De Ann said. “It’s also important to learn what your signs of stress and feeling overwhelmed are so that you can be proactive in managing your mental health and wellness.”

Some of us feel like we can’t relax or just don’t know how. It’s something that can be learned, though.

For example, start by soaking in your surroundings. Engage your five senses to be more in tune with your body and the sensations you feel. What do you see? How does the air feel on your skin, or what about the sensation of the ground under your feet? Do you notice any smells or aromas? What sounds can you hear? Acknowledging these things can help clear your mind and make room for positive thoughts – all while recharging your body.

It can be tough to find a positive outlook when things seem so uncertain. However, your view of the world is about perspective.

One person sees it’s raining outside and immediately starts complaining about the clouds, the mud or the way people drive,” Collins said, “while someone else immediately thinks of how nice it is that it’s raining, cooler outside, the plants become green again and they don’t have to add water to their pool because it saves them money.”

For some of us, a simple shift in how we perceive things can make a huge difference in relaxing, refueling and increasing our positive outlook on the world.

If you or someone you love needs some help emotionally navigating these trying times, Health First’s Senior Behavioral Wellness Services is available to help. If you have questions about our services, please call 321.434.7604 for more information. To schedule a virtual or in-office appointment with one of our family practice providers, call 321.434.3131.