LIMA — As the coronavirus outbreak disrupts daily life, many individuals are finding it difficult to cope with what will be the new normal for next month and probably longer. But there are ways to make it easier.
On the latest episode of BoomXYZ — a Lima News podcast — a few health professionals unpack what each person can do mentally to prep for what’s to come and stay levelheaded during this difficult time.
Not surprisingly, panel members all joined the call sitting from their homes.
“I’m currently working from home. I think I’m on week number two or three. I don’t even know,” said Shelly Miller, a health educator with Allen County Public Health. “It’s very different. I have my whole kitchen table set up as a workstation and it’s challenging with people in the house, but you know, it works.”
While the damage caused by the unprecedented pandemic is something no one living has experienced, there is some recent historical precedents to compare it to. Mental health professionals Maha Zehery and Rick Skilliter compared the moment to what many Americans felt in the weeks following the Sept. 11 tragedy.
At the time, the country came together in support of first responders who had reacted to the collapse of the Twin Towers. Skilliter said similar support has been raised for those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The reactions are similar in the way the public is connecting to those folks who are going to be the helpers, but the invisibility of this, you know, with all of the other ones are something that you can see and you could get a handle on it but this is the the invisible enemy as it’s been referred to by some that. You just can’t see it,” Skilliter
And that uncertainty associated with its invisible nature will probably cause some mental health problems down the line. Anxiety, fear and worries about the future have kept many wound tight and nervous during the pandemic, and it will take some time for many to really wrap their heads around what is really happening — especially as circumstances and daily life see disruptions.
“There’s so many unknowns to this and you think you’re doing everything right, and then the numbers just keep going up. So it’s a challenge,” Miller said.
But people can start taking steps now to keep them grounded, Zehery said. Taking things one at a time, staying motivated and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are all practices that will help individuals get through the stress.
“The first thing is learn how to be motivated. You can easily fall into just waking up, staying in, not doing anything, not even showering. But just waking up and taking care of yourself and dressing up and being motivated is a big tool that we all have to learn,” Zehery said.
“We don’t have to be scared of it. But we have to acknowledge that, from time to time, we’re scared about it. And so parents can role model for their children. They look at you for everything else in life. And so now is our opportunity to shine with our children and with our family,” Skilliter said.
“I think the big thing is taking the time to unwind, myself included. You know, I’m in this 24/7, and so I have to physically make time to pull away from everything to try to find some other activity,” Miller said.
The entire conversation can be heard at limaohio.com, or on your favorite podcast streaming service online by searching for “BoomXYZ”.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.