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Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Mental Health

As I sit here in my office reflecting on the past few weeks I can't but help to think of all the people I have encountered who struggle with various mental health issues. From depression or anxiety and even substance abuse. These are trying times for us all but when you mix in mental health disorders it brings things into a much clearer perspective.

How are you dealing with all the "hype" that is associated with the most recent world events? Are you more depressed than usual? Has your anxiety level surged as the number of cases rise in your city? Are you considering throwing your recovery away as a means of handling all this pressure?

Depression can happen to anyone- and does happen to 1 in 4 of us in our lifetime. People who are depressed tend to think of themselves, the world, and their future, very negatively. It can be like looking at life through "gloomy specs".

Here are several suggestions that you can try to alleviate depression:

Do something different (then you normally do)

Pause, take a breath

Mindfulness- Learn mindful breathing

Focus your attention fully on another activity- Mindful Activity

Relaxation techniques- try lots and see which ones work for you

Put on some music- sing, dance, or just listen attentively

Meditation or Prayer

Help someone else, get out of yourself

Be with others- contact a friend, visit family

Talk to someone

Grounding techniques- look around you, what do you hear, see, smell?

Write down your thoughts- get them out of your head

Pamper yourself- do something you really enjoy or do something relaxing

Positive self talk- encourage yourself, tell yourself: "I can do this" "I am strong and capable"

Tell yourself "This will pass, its only temporary"

Visualize yourself doing the things that you used to enjoy or would like to enjoy doing

Some of the techniques I have mentioned for depression alleviation also work for anxiety.

Try Thinking differently-

Is this threat a real one or is it really bound to happen?

Am I exaggerating the threat? Am I misreading things?

I feel bad, but that doesn’t mean things really are so bad.

What would someone else say about this?

What would I say to a friend in this situation?

What would be a more helpful way of looking at things?

Where’s my focus of attention?

I can cope with these feelings, I’ve got through it before. This will pass.

Am I Doing things differently

Take a breath

How will doing this affect me in the long term?

Don’t avoid situations – go anyway.

Problem solve or make plans if necessary.

Take things slowly or gradually.

Focus attention outside of me – external rather than internal focus.

What’s the best thing to do? What would help most?

Imagine… Imagine yourself coping in a situation that you feel anxious about. See the situation through to a successful completion.

Here is a Simple Five-Minute Breath Exercise

Sit in a comfortable position either on a chair or on a floor with your legs comfortably crossed. Sit tall with your spine extended so that your breath can enter your entire torso. Relax your shoulders down and move your shoulder blades towards each other. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other above your chest near your collar bone. Inhale deeply from the bottom of your abdomen. Feel the expansion pressing against your hand. Continue to fill your torso until you feel the hand on your upper chest expand. Hold the breath for one

second, and then release the breath from the chest to the abdomen. Picture a cup of water emptying from the top to the bottom. Hold the breath at the bottom for two seconds, then repeat this long, slow even breath nine more times. When you have finished, remain sitting for five minutes or more. It may help to use some sort of timer when you are first practicing this technique. Practicing this exercise will have a cumulative effect on your well-being by increasing your ability to manage stress.

Lets talk about all of this together. Human beings are adaptive and resilient. If we believe that we will overcome this we will. It all starts with you believing in yourself. Reach out to me. Either by text or email. I am here for you.


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