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Be Mindful of Your Mental Health During Social Distancing

With the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order likely to be extended, it is important to manage your mental health and stress.  Studies have shown that mental health can affect physical health, including the immune system.

“The Coronavirus Pandemic can affect the mental health of all of us with the increasing anxiety of contracting the disease, as well as the isolation and loneliness,” said Pat Bailey, City of Auburn Healthcare Consultant.  “This can exacerbate the symptoms of those with mental health issues.”

Bailey provided some “mental health tips for adults and children during this difficult time affecting the health of our country.”

It is normal for everyone to feel anxious during uncertain times, but there are ways to manage, according to Dr. Eli Lebowitz, Director of the Anxiety and Mood Disorder program at the Yale Child Study Center. “The good news is, the young – and not-as-young – can manage anxiety with many of the same tips.”

  1. Just breathe

Call it meditation or a deep breath that parents can do easily with their kids. Deep breathe – 5 times.

  1. Maintain a daily routine

Lebowitz recommends that everybody stick to a schedule during times of uncertainty – do whatever normally fits into your schedule. Also, children may appreciate having a schedule posted on the refrigerator.

  1. Take control of little things

When you cannot control the public response to a health crisis, you can control much of what happens at home. Write out a to-do list each morning.

  1. Keep moving

Exercise is a great stress reliever.

  1. Monitor your news intake

Take a break if you find yourself watching the news without learning any new or useful information.

  1. Stay connected

Lebowitz says social distancing does not have to feel like social isolation. Keep regular phone dates with family and friends. For children, try scheduling a virtual playdate with classmates they may be missing from school.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) offers these tips for people with mental illness:

  1. For anyone who is unsure about attending therapy sessions outside the home, especially those who the CDC has described as being at higher risk, you can ask your health care provider about tele-therapy or mental health services online.
  1. For anyone who is worried about access to prescribed medications, you can ask your health care provider about getting 90-day supplies vs. a 60- or 30-day supply. If this is not possible, we encourage you to refill your medications as soon as they are allowed.

Note: If healthcare providers deny/decline making accommodations, challenge the decisions at least three times. The decision may change if/as conditions worsen.

  1. Listen to and follow your local public health care provider expectations.
  1. Provide self-care, especially if in the higher risk population as defined by the CDC. Pay attention to emerging symptoms. Reach out to family and friends.

“The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee for Auburn – The Healthiest City in Washington – 2020 salutes Auburn residents for the great work they are doing following the national, state, and local public health guidelines. We’re all in this together, Auburn,” said Bailey.

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