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Protect your mental health in pandemic
Florida Times-Union - 3/31/2020
We are bombarded daily with information about how we can navigate through the coronavirus pandemic by practicing critical physical health care protocols.
Wash your hands, keep 6-feet apart, for instance.
In comparison, relatively little attention is given to our mental health needs as we all grapple with these major disruptions in our lives.
In times of crisis, mental health symptoms are worsened, such as anxiety and depression. Also, many who live with the disease of addiction struggle with their recovery and are more prone to relapse during troubled times like these.
Human beings generally prefer structure, a sense of control and consistency in our daily lives.
Many other changes in our routines have resulted in shaking up our mental psyche and sense of well-being.
When our lives become disrupted, we lose our sense of balance, and this can affect us on emotional, physical, psychological or spiritual levels.
We may self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, food and other addictive substances.
It is critically important for individuals to devote as much time to shoring up our mental health and wellness as it is for us to manage our physical health. During times of natural and man-made disasters, including infectious disease outbreaks, many of us are experiencing issues such as:
Fear and worry about our own health and health of your loved ones;Changes in sleep or eating patterns;Difficulty sleeping or concentrating;Worsening of chronic health problems;Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugsPeople who might respond more strongly to the stresses of such a crisis include the elderly, those with chronic diseases at higher risk for COVID-19, children and teens, health care providers and first responders.
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
You can support your mental health and well-being in several ways:
Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media.Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate and focus on the present moment.Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.Exercise regularly.Get plenty of sleep.Avoid alcohol and other drugs.Factor in activities that you enjoy, such as painting, gardening, bicycle riding and reading.Connect with others and talk to people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.Reach out for professional support and counseling for additional support.At LSF Health Systems, our Access to Care Line is available 24/7. We can assist with providing telehealth counseling resources and other available community assistance such as housing, food stamp information.
It is a sign of strength to reach out for professional help when you feel it is needed.
Christine Cauffield is CEO of LSF Health Systems.
(c)2020 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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