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Caring for Ourselves in the Midst of a Pandemic

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Caring for Ourselves in the Midst of a Pandemic

We have been in the midst of a pandemic for over 10 months now, and as we’ve navigated this uncertain and unfamiliar terrain, we have seen “normalcy” fade away and transform into something we have not faced before. We, as a human race, tend to adapt to change as best we can and take new challenges on in stride; after all, we don’t really have any other option, do we? We’ve seen schools and teachers come together to make a safe place for our kids. We’ve seen those in healthcare go above and beyond to screen, test, and treat people affected by COVID-19. We’ve seen countless examples of small businesses, restaurants, workplaces and entire communities adjust to what has seemed like an impossible situation.

This has become our “new normal.”

What is important to remember, however, is that just because it’s our “new normal” does not mean it is actually normal. In contrast to life before the pandemic, our lives are actually the furthest thing from normal, and this can have devastating impacts on our emotional and mental well-being. The lives of our children, our parents, our families, and our friends—OUR lives—have been completely flipped upside down. We exist entirely differently than before and in a way that is much more disconnected from others. We’ve been exposed to a world of uncertainty and fear about what this virus means and how it will impact not only ourselves, but those we love most. Just because we are adjusting as best we can does not make any of this less difficult.

If you find that you are struggling with increased anxiety, worry, fear, grief, loneliness, or depression—don’t discount the impact of this pandemic. It is entirely understandable to struggle through the stress of living through a pandemic. It is also important to remember that so many of us are also experiencing cumulative stressors both related and unrelated to the pandemic, which understandably impacts our ability to function within our relationships, at work, at school, and at home.

Along with the rest of the community, the staff at Myrtue Medical Behavioral Health have worked hard to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate our clients during this unprecedented time. We began offering telehealth for all of our mental health services via Zoom at the beginning of the pandemic and continue to do so. Clients have the option of visiting with a therapist, medication provider, or community support provider to help with all of their mental health needs. Behavioral Health continues to work to expand the services that we are offering to the community. As part of this goal, Myrtue Behavioral Health is relocating to a new, larger building, located at 1110 Morningview Drive. This move will take place during the week of Christmas. We are also beginning the new year with two additional providers: Patty Hildreth will be providing psychiatric medication management services and Rhonda Anderson will expand our school-based therapy services for the Harlan School District.

As you continue to cope with impacts of COVID-19 and other stressors in your daily lives, here are three tips to help improve your mental health at home:

  1. Connection – This is the most crucial thing we are missing out on as a result of this pandemic, and it is the most impactful on our mental health. Utilize the power of social media and technology or bring it back to the basics and call, text, or even write letters to stay connected to friends and family. Do whatever you can to increase connection with others, but safely.
  2. Exercise – When we are struggling with any sort of mental health symptoms, we often hold the tension of these hardships in our body. Movement, in any form, can be a helpful way of relieving this tension. While you can engage in formal exercise, like running on a treadmill or completing an exercise regimen, you can also do things like performing simple stretches or going for a short walk.
  3. Relaxation Techniques – Relaxation techniques are incredibly useful in managing stress, depression, and anxiety. They, too, help relieve the tension we hold in our bodies. You can utilize relaxation techniques formally, through things like meditation and yoga; or, you can engage in things that are relaxing to you, such as drawing a bath, watching the sunset, or reading a good book. Self-care and quiet reflection can make a world of difference, even if it’s done on a small scale.