Behavioral Health Services Column - April 24
Special thanks to MDH Behavioral Health Services Director Kim Laird, MS, LCPC, for the department’s inaugural column on topics surrounding COVID-19.
The recent outbreak of the coronavirus has created stress for all of us. Uncertainty and an inability to control one’s circumstances are primary precipitants to experiencing anxiety. There are no clear answers for when we will be able to return to the routine of our past lives. We have been provided an overwhelming amount of information to sift through to help us understand what we are to do on a daily basis, often contrary to our personal preferences. We have been asked to social distance and shelter at home. For some of us that means working from home, staying out of school, not socializing, and avoiding unnecessary trips to the store. This has meant minimizing contact with family, friends, and co-workers, which can lead to a major disruption of our daily routine in addition to leaving us feeling isolated and lonely. The sense of the unknown of what will happen with our jobs, our relationships, and our community can all lead to experiencing a high level of stress.
Practicing stress management skills will help you respond more effectively to fear and worry. It is important to maintain some type of routine in your day - get up and go to bed around the same time you typically do even if you are sheltering at home, eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and stay active. Movement and exercise are keys to helping us feel good emotionally and physically. Also, take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news and social media. Hearing about the pandemic excessively can be unsettling and worrisome.
If you find your anxiety is interfering with your sleeping habits, if there’s a change in your eating pattern, if you are feeling constantly on edge, or if your level of sadness or loneliness escalates, you may want to consider speaking with a mental health professional.
TeleHealth services are provided by MDH Behavioral Health Services, allowing for virtual interaction with a therapist. You are able to remain in your own home ensuring your safety during our current health crisis and meet with a mental health provider using your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. Services remain confidential and are covered at this time by most insurance providers. If you want to learn more about these services or would like to speak with a counselor, please call Behavioral Health Services at (309) 836-1582.