As concerns ratchet up regarding the health and economic threats posed by coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), a licensed mental health counselor from Wesley Chapel offers some suggestions to help cope with the additional pressures.
“People’s lives go through various ups and downs, and the same is true of our human existence.
“The world also goes through up and downs,” said Shabana Churruca, a licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional at Wiregrass Counseling.
The COVID-19 pandemic will result in difficulties and loss of lives, but Churruca said, “the thing that we have to remember is that we are going to get to the other side of this.”
She also offered strategies that may prove useful during this uncertain time. Here are some of her suggestions:
• Focus on the things we can do.
“What’s happening is that we are sort of in this global place of feeling this angst, and this feeling of being completely out of control. That is often time what brings on anxiety.”
To counter that, find things you can control.
“Sort through the drawers. Clean out the pantry. Do some things that you’ve been putting off doing.”
• Stay connected with others.
Even during a time of “social distancing,” we can still reach out to the others.
“We’re kind of going to have to reinvent the way we do things.
“We have to figure out, ‘How can I still stay connected to people that are important to me?’
Social gatherings may be out, but virtual gatherings aren’t.
“We have to maybe think outside the box for ourselves,” she said.
• Focus on the present moment.
“Anxiety and depression will kind of put us in this state where we’re living in the past or living in the future. What we want to do is stay in the right now,” she said.
“The best way to do that is just by really paying attention to your senses.
“If you open up your senses — what am I seeing? What am I feeling, touching, tasting? When you open up your senses, it allows you to stay in the present moment.”
• If you have extra time, take advantage of it.
Maybe now is the time to start a meditation or prayer practice. Or, perhaps to learn a new language, pick up a new hobby, do some crafts, play games with your family, take online courses, and so on.
• Raise your vibration.
Negative thinking lowers our vibrations. Positive actions raise them. So, if you’re a negative space, put on some music you enjoy — and don’t just listen, sing.
“You’re engaging more of your brain by actually singing,” the mental health expert said.
“It really does have the quality of changing how you feel,” she adding, noting that music also can transport us to a different time and place.
In a nutshell, do things that make you feel good — whether that’s listening to music, exercising, cooking, painting, gardening or some other pursuit.
• Take one thing at a time.
“What’s the most important thing you have to deal with right now?”
Do that. Then do the next thing. Just keep working through your list of priorities.
• Take care of yourself.
You may not be able to control whether your job will end or not, but you can eat nutritious foods, go for walks, drink lots of water and do what you can to maintain your health.
• Ask for help.
If you need help, ask for it. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.
Published April 1, 2020