If you’re starting to feel your mental health collapse a bit, experts say that’s a pretty normal experience given what’s going on in the world right now.
Thanks to no-contact orders and shelter-in-place orders, many mental health offices have had to shut down in-person services. If your therapy appointments have been delayed, you still have options.
Telemedicine for mental health is available through Tricare, so if you’re struggling, that’s an option you can do from the comfort of your own home.
There are also therapy experts out there with some solid advice on navigating these challenging times.
Sandboxx connected with licensed therapist Wendi Wood, owner of The Clinic, Therapy & Consulting, LLC in Gulfport, Mississippi, for tips on keeping your mental health strong through the Coronavirus pandemic. Wood works with military service members and their families in the Gulfport area.
Here she talks about the importance of mental health care, when to see a therapist, relaxation techniques, and processing emotions.
Why is it important for people to pay attention to their mental health during times of crisis?
During a crisis, you want to pay attention to your mental health in an effort to manage the crisis situation more effectively. It is important to acknowledge heightened emotions and identify a support system to avoid decompensating if the situation is prolonged. It is important to recognize that your mental wellness also impacts your physical health.
What are some of the emotions individuals can expect to have around this Coronavirus outbreak?
With the Coronavirus outbreak, it is a reasonable expectation to feel some level of anxiety due to the great unknowns. However, there can also be moments of mixed emotions, including grief, frustration, anger, and fear.
It is important to acknowledge these emotions and not be ruled by them during this time. We want to remain mindful and wise in such a time of uncertainty.
What advice do you have for individuals who are feeling a lot of anxiety around the Coronavirus outbreak?
Talk about it — we are in a crisis. Feeling anxiety is a normal response to a situation like this.
Remember what is and isn’t within your control. You can take precautions by heeding to the advice of the professionals regarding social distancing, shelter in place, washing hands, and cleaning surfaces. While you can’t control others’ actions, you can educate them and strongly encourage them to also follow government directives.
Learn ways to use self-care. Learn ways to be creative in isolation. Make meaningful connections with others via computer and/or digital technology.
When should someone consider seeing a therapist about anxiety and stress surrounding Coronavirus?
At any time someone feels the functioning of their daily lives is being negatively impacted, they should seek counseling.
Our lives have been disrupted dramatically. It is necessary to learn ways to adjust our lives to follow the safety precaution measures and minimize further spread of the virus, and this, in itself, can be overwhelmingly stressful. Many times having someone to share that stress and problem solve with you can be beneficial.
Many counselors aren’t able to connect with their clients in-person due to quarantine measures during the Coronavirus outbreak. Telemedicine is covered by Tricare. What can someone expect during a telemedicine therapy session?
Telemental health sessions are covered by Tricare. Telemental health visits are much like what one would experience in an office setting except via a computer or phone. However, there are also challenges that one might face with technology.
A few tips to have a productive session:
- It is important to have a safe, quiet environment to conduct your session.
- Having a reliable, high-speed internet connection will also help to ensure a better quality of video and sound.
You can expect telemental sessions to last between 30-60 minutes long.
What behaviors or habits should individuals refrain from during high-stress times like these?
During times of crisis, it can be easy to fall into a heightened emotional state. When we are functioning in an emotion-centered mind state, we can make unhealthy decisions.
We often tend to utilize maladaptive coping skills, including self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. It is during this emotional state that it is common for individuals to make impulsive decisions with money, sex, drugs, or relationships. Refraining from such behaviors may prevent further future heartache and/or trauma.
What exercises or calming techniques do you recommend?
- Focus on gratitude – Find positive distractions or activities within your home environment.
- Get organized – Utilize the time to reorganize and clean different areas in the house that may have been neglected.
- Spend quality time with your kids – Take this opportunity to get to know your children better.
- Get into a relaxation practice of some type – Practice mindfulness and meditation, including deep breathing exercises and yoga. Tap into your spirituality, connecting to spiritual practices or faith traditions in a meaningful way. Download meditation apps like Headspace, Ten Percent, and Stop. Breathe & Think.
- Unwind in your favorite way – Listen to music, exercise, etc.
Anything else you want the public or military community to know about taking care of their mental health during this time?
Your mind is a beautiful part of the human body. It is amazing. Take care of it. Practice self-care. Find someone to talk to if you need to. Don’t allow the negative stigma of mental health prevent you from reaching out. This is a stressful time for everyone. Reach out to one another and be kind.
Wendi Wood is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the owner of The Clinic, Therapy & Consulting, LLC in Gulfport, Mississippi. She has 19 years of experience in the counseling field. Wood specializes in Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Solution-Focused Therapy.
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash