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Mental Health in the Pandemic

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Chat' started by Sonya, Oct 17, 2020.

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  1. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    I've been going back and forth about starting a thread like this. I'm not a psychologist or medical professional, so please defer to your own medical professionals. But I thought that there is information out there that could be helpful in finding ways to get through this difficult period that seems to be dragging on and on, with no end in sight.

    We have had a couple of threads where someone has asked for advice about burnout or how to deal with the stress and how to balance it all. We've had other threads where we have talked about not feeling like you can travel now and how the cabin fever is getting serious. I thought maybe I could compile some articles and information from various sources that could help some people.

    I'm aware that not every practice is for everyone. Some stuff here will be too "woo-woo" or "out there" for some of you. I encourage people to have an open mind and try the things that resonate with you.

    We're all struggling. I know I am more short tempered than usual. I'm also finding I get really sad about all the sickness, and unemployment, and people suffering at home alone, people unable to see their parents, or say goodbye to a loved one in the hospital. It's all kind of awful right now. I'm assuming I'm not the only one. :)

    @HoyaHeel and I have been talking for a while about compiling some information here and I think maybe it's time to start.

    I'm going to leave this thread closed to comments, as it makes it easier to find the relevant information without all the chatter. But please feel free to PM or email me if you have a resource you think should be shared in this thread.

    I also wanted to just remind everyone that you're not alone. You have friends here at VMB and we care about you. If you are struggling, please don't be afraid to reach out. Call a friend, send a text, or call someone who can direct you to professional help.


    If you are in crisis or danger, please call 911 or get to an emergency room, immediately.

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


    Or they have an online chat at : https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

    SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    SAMHSA's National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

    And you can reach the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or by texting to 838255
     
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  2. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    Seven Ways to Stay Sane During the Fall Pandemic Surge:
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/17/health/covid-fall-surge-ways-to-stay-healthy-wellness/index.html


    Get ready for the most difficult months yet in this pandemic.

    The fall Covid-19 surge is here, fueled by colder weather, reopened schools and pandemic fatigue. The flu season could make the coronavirus pandemic even worse.

    For the next several months, new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to keep rising as the temperatures keep dropping.
    But that doesn't mean your fall and winter have to be miserable. Here are seven ways you can stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy these cold-weather months:

    1. Find your social distancing crew and stick with it
    You're probably sick of hearing about face masks, social distancing and hand washing. But those are your strongest weapons against coronavirus.

    Yet many Americans are ditching those precautions and letting their guard down with friends and family members who don't live with them.

    Casual at-home get-togethers are fueling recent Covid-19 spikes, said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    So Dr. Peter Hotez suggests limiting your physical contact this fall and winter to a small, select group of friends or family -- and avoiding close contact with anyone outside that group.

    "Think about who you want to do your social distancing with as you head into later in November, in December, in January, and get ready to hunker down," said Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.


    2. Have a plan to take care of your mental health

    "This terrible period is not going to go on forever. I do think we're going to be in a much better place by the middle of next year because vaccines will be available," Hotez said.

    But "be realistic and recognize that this winter -- this November, December, January, February -- could be the worst time in our epidemic, and plan accordingly and be smart about it. And take steps to protect your mental health," Hotez said.

    "Make certain that you know a mental health counselor, how to reach them if you need them. Know how to call on family members. It's OK to feel scared and to be upset and to get depressed. That's a normal reaction to this. But get ready for it."

    3. Determine your risk of infection

    MyCovidRisk.app lets you find your risk of getting infected based on your location, your planned activity, the duration of that activity and what percentage of people are wearing masks.

    The calculator, created by the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health, also gives suggestions on how to decrease your risk, said Dr. Megan Ranney, the center's director and an emergency medicine physician.

    4. Know that socializing outside is safer, but not always safe

    Colder weather means people tend to socialize indoors, where there's less opportunity for viral particles to disperse. And that increases the risk of coronavirus spread.

    So if you do have gatherings, keep them outside if you can -- perhaps with a fire pit, a warm coat or a heat lamp, said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and visiting professor at George Washington University.

    But just because you're outside doesn't mean you can abandon all safety precautions.

    "Outdoors is not perfect. If you're still sitting a foot away from other people, without a mask, you can still spread it -- especially if you're in that very infectious period," Ranney said.

    One reason why coronavirus is so contagious is because people who get sick from it typically are most contagious before they start showing symptoms. This means people can easily spread the virus without knowing it.

    "Just because someone is close family does not mean they're safe, either," Ranney said. "Unfortunately, if that close family member has been out having a lot of contacts, they still could be sick and bring it home."

    5. If you visit friends or family, do it wisely

    "We know by now that much of Covid-19's spread is actually driven not by formal settings with strangers but by informal gatherings of family and friends," Wen said. "Some individuals may be letting down their guard with loved ones."

    If you must travel for the holidays, cut out risky behavior before your trip, such as dining at restaurants indoors or getting in close contact with people who don't live with you.

    It's also a good idea to get tested before seeing loved ones, so those who test positive can stay home. But don't get a false sense of security just because you have a negative test result.

    "Sometimes there are false negatives, which means you have the disease but the test doesn't detect it," according to Penn Medicine.

    "Because it is possible to get a negative result even when you have coronavirus, it is important to be careful even when you receive a negative result." Ranney said the recent White House coronavirus outbreak is a prime example of how testing is not always perfect.

    And even if a negative test result is correct, you may have been infected since that test was taken.

    6. Celebrate the holidays safely

    The CDC offers a long list of ways to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving safely.

    Instead of Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, the CDC suggests carving pumpkins with your family or with friends and neighbors (at a safe distance).

    You can also have virtual costume contests or a Halloween scavenger hunt, "where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance," the CDC said.

    For Thanksgiving, you can celebrate by having a virtual dinner with friends or family from afar and sharing your favorite Thanksgiving recipe, the CDC said.

    "Thanksgiving is a really tough one," Ranney admits. "I am going to be doing a Zoom Thanksgiving with my parents."

    You can also help those at high risk for Covid-19 or those who are feeling isolated by preparing traditional Thanksgiving dishes "and delivering them in a way that doesn't involve contact with others," the CDC says.

    7. Keep things in perspective

    Yes, this fall and winter will be tough. But Covid-19 has killed more than 218,000 people in the US, and many survivors still have complications months after infection.

    So remember the long-term benefits of making short-term changes.

    "I think for the short term, we have to hunker down," said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University.

    "The consequences of this virus -- particularly for older folks, the people that we really want to gather with on Thanksgiving -- can be really dire. And frankly, I'd rather do a Zoom Thanksgiving with people that I love than expose them to something that might kill them."

    Personal responsibility and small sacrifices now will pay off later.

    "Next year's going to be much better," Reiner said. "Let's get through this, and let's get through it safely."
     
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  3. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    Don't Grieve Alone. Reach Out.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/well/pandemic-grieving-alone-friends-support.html

    After the death of the author's mother:

    One of the cruelest realities of this pandemic is that it has deprived so many of us the opportunity to grieve in the most familiar, instinctive ways. We can share stories, cry and laugh together over Zoom, but we can’t simply sit in quiet companionship or hold each other when words fail us. After my loss, I ran out of words to share; I couldn’t imagine calling anyone. How was I going to feel connected to others, find comfort and strength in my friends?
    ...

    As it turned out, socially distanced grieving didn’t mean grieving alone — so many people found ways to offer support, as if they knew what I needed even when I didn’t. It occurred to me that most of them hadn’t needed to dig deep in order to understand what I was going through.

    “After a trauma, one of the lingering shocks can be the feeling of aloneness that follows,” Juli Fraga, a psychologist, told me. “In this pandemic, that sense of aloneness might be softened because of our collective suffering — everybody needs support right now.”
    ...

    “At moments of peak fear and distress, we all think of connection and reaching out to people we love,” said Joy Lieberthal Rho, a social worker and therapist. “It’s part of that mass moment of reckoning in a crisis.”

    As the pandemic drags on and our emotional reserves dwindle, we’re still doing our best to care for loved ones we can’t visit, sharing burdens, mourning losses, and celebrating tiny victories in long-distance communion.

    Sometimes that means a call, just listening to and spending time with one another. Sometimes it means sharing resources or sending gifts, if we’re lucky enough to be able to do so — as my friend Jess put it, “Buying gifts for people who are going through hard times has been the only good thing this year.”

    If you’re like me and have a hard time asking for help or naming what you need — especially now, when everyone you know is struggling — Ms. Rho suggests starting with “just one person who has been consistently good about reaching out” to you. “This gives that person positive feedback” for being such a good friend to you, she says, and perhaps they’ll be motivated to continue, or to let others know you could use extra support. Dr. Fraga says that asking for help can also give others permission to voice their own needs.

    When it’s your turn to offer comfort or aid, Martha Crawford, a psychotherapist and licensed social worker, recommends asking yourself what is in your power to do and letting a loved one know that you have the emotional capacity to do it.

    “With grief on this massive scale, we move through periods of time when we can function and periods when we can’t,” she said. “Try to honestly recognize where you are — when you have support to lend and when you have support to give — and then let people know where you’re at, and ask where they’re at.” She says this form of emotional resource sharing is in “the spirit of mutual aid.”
    ....

    At least once a day, you probably hear someone mention pandemic fatigue. The days seem endless, even as weeks fly by, and still there is no return to normalcy. Whatever it was that gave you strength or courage in the early days of the pandemic might be wavering now. Maybe you can’t bounce back so quickly. Maybe you shouldn’t — sometimes you need to stay down, take that extra breath, ask for help before you can figure out how to go on.

    Whenever I rise and get back to it — to help my family, to do my job, to support my friends the way they’ve generously supported me — I often think of my mother, the person most responsible for showing me that love can defy distance and be an endless source of strength and resilience.
     
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  4. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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  5. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    Finding A Way & Remaining Hopeful
    https://medium.com/@DukeGWHT/finding-a-way-remaining-hopeful-f0abe6cb41e4

    How Can those of us working at home, maybe through 2020, find a way?

    I would start with emotions, emotions are always really important. Now so more than ever. When we first started thinking about the virus maybe some of us, or at least I, thought this would maybe be a month, but the finish line keeps changing. That is really challenging to us, because as we try to manage emotions we see the finish line as being close, and every time it gets moved, we’re going to be frustrated or disappointed.

    From an emotional perspective, I would encourage people to see the finish line as quite distant from now - about six months or nine months.
    While that may be painful to hear and anxiety-inducing on the front end, go ahead and set expectations that way…the same way you would when you go to a movie with low expectation and then allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised.

    My other suggestion would be to keep track of the things you are grateful for. Gratitude has been shown over and over again to loosen up negative emotions, and it kinda paves the way. It’s got to be genuine, you can’t pretend to be grateful for something that you are not. I encourage everyone to make a list of things that you are grateful for.

    When you think about what you are missing, maybe you can also point to what is new and different and something that can still be done now.”

    How Can We Identify our Wills & Ways?

    Dr. Preschould-Bell started by explaining to us what she means by wills and ways.

    Wills are your values and what you are living for. If someone if given a scary health diagnosis — for example, if someone is given a diagnosis of cervical cancer — your will to live immediately surfaces. After receiving a scary diagnosis, some might wonder, why am I living? One’s will might bring them to say… I am living for family. Maybe you haven’t attained a goal yet. Whatever you feel like you are missing — that is your will.

    The way is the means of obtaining your will. Now this is an interesting time to figure out a way. Usually if there is a problem we can talk to other people who have been through it and listen to their wise advice. Right now with COVID-19 we do not have that. Most of us are trying to make sense of this all at the same time.

    So what can we best to do to look to the ways? One thing we can do is look back to history. What I found is that humans have been living with epidemics and pandemics forever; it hasn’t only happened in my life. The idea of quarantining and self-quarantining is age-old. In these times, people have often found other ways to be together.

    In 1666, England had a couple plague cases and the residents there quarantined together in order to avoid spreading the plague. However, they still found ways to come together, whether politically or religiously. They stood 6 feet apart. For me it is important to remember that humans have done this before and that there are strategies that we can adopt right now.

    Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell shares an exercise of hope in this 10-minute video, and talks about why behaviors matter so much during pandemics.




    What Are Things People Can Do to Remain Hopeful?

    On a larger level, there’s hope and positive emotion, as well as negative emotions like fear. Fear can be very real. We are fearful of working from home, losing a job, or getting sick from COVID-19, whether that be ourselves or the people we love.

    I’ve been thinking about a quote by Army General Stanley A. McChrystal, ‘People can handle bad and frightening news if it is put in context for them and they believe that it is accurate. People cannot handle things being hidden.’

    So it is really time for transparency.

    General McChrystal suggests that we encourage people to respect the difficulties that are going on. To not minimize the situation, but to remember that this is a big deal. And then you don’t necessarily need to say this is how we will win or come through — but we do need to think about the steps we are taking now and the steps that we will need to take in order to come through this.

    I do believe that with COVID-19, there are thousands and hundreds of thousand of people who are working very hard to ensure that our public health system is thinking about ways forward on a big scale.

    If you can tamp down the fear a little bit, that will allow room for positive emotions to come through. Again, it’s always good to start with gratitude.

    How do you remain hopeful, I think its two things:
    1. I think you need to communicate.
    2. I think you take small actions.
    We will start to distrust each other if we all stay at home and do not talk to each other. We should do anything to talk to other people, to organize our neighborhoods, organize and reconnect with the groups that we used to naturally intersect with. Create a space to talk about the difficult things that are occurring.

    I think if you can, do one small thing — whether it is donating food for a food ministry, organizing a shelter drives for people who do not have homes, helping with ways to vote in November, or organizing ways to get belongings for people to create a home. Do anything concrete, even if it is very small.

    Dr. Preschould-Bell wants us to remember that there is hope, and that this hope comes from our behaviors. She encourages us to do things such as communicate, take small actions and practice gratitude to maintain hope in our lives. We hope that you can remain hopeful during these unprecedented times.


    ------------

    There are some resources linked at the bottom of the link.
    https://medium.com/@DukeGWHT/finding-a-way-remaining-hopeful-f0abe6cb41e4
     
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  6. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    Why You May Have Quarantine Fatigue and How to Overcome It:
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/why-you-may-have-quarantine-fatigue-and-how-to-overcome-it-1.4974227

    If you've found you're no longer disinfecting your hands as often or becoming more lenient toward unnecessary trips outside, you're not alone.

    This unintentional phenomenon is "caution fatigue" — and you have your brain to blame.

    You were likely vigilant at the pandemic's outset, consistently keeping up with ways to ensure you didn't get infected with the coronavirus or infect others. The threat was new and urgent to your brain. And driven by the human instinct for self-preservation, fresh fear motivated you to eagerly adhere to recommended safety precautions.

    Fast-forward three months, and that sense of immediacy may have faded. Caution fatigue "occurs when people show low motivation or energy to comply with safety guidelines," said Jacqueline Gollan, who holds two professorships at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine: one in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and another in obstetrics and gynecology.

    "It's reflected when we become impatient with warnings, or we don't believe the warnings to be real or relevant, or we de-emphasize the actual risk," she added. "And in doing that, we then bend rules or stop safety behaviors like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing."

    Caution fatigue has been observed in previous or everyday life situations, such as when you ignore an alarm of some sort and don't take it seriously because you've heard it before. This mental state happens for a few reasons, including chronic stress, decreased sensitivity to warnings and the inability to process new information with others.

    You can combat quarantine fatigue with self-care, conversations with loved ones and shifting your mindset so following guidelines seems rewarding instead of dreadful.

    ADAPTING TO THREATS

    Caution fatigue can result from a decreased sensitivity to repeated warnings, Gollan said.

    The amygdala, the region of the brain that registers fear, activates when we see or hear a threat (or information about the pandemic). When our brains perceive threats, fear is communicated throughout the body via stress hormones and the sympathetic nervous system, or our fight-or-flight response.

    "So the amygdala is important because it determines the relative importance of the threat," Gollan said.

    Now the brain's alarm system has gone off, so it has prepared the body to sort itself out and respond to questions like, "Do I get more groceries today?" or "Do I meet with those friends?" Enter the hippocampus, which is connected to the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. It helps the brain assess the context of a perceived threat and whether it's real, Gollan said.

    "They basically assign the context of how wiping down the groceries initially was important, but now not so much," Gollan said. "And so they put the brakes on it ... to sort of decrease the amygdala fear of reactivity.

    "So the front part of the brain, the thinking part, says, 'Hey, emotions. It's OK. You don't have to do that right now,'" she added. "We use these processes basically to create a sense of control."

    This perception of control as a way to manage threats can make you more confident about the things that once scared you, because you're now reassured that you're safe. Consider a horror movie, for example — seeing it the second or third time isn't nearly as scary as the first time you watched it.

    "There's a way people may create a context that assumes that it's not important," Gollan said. "They don't see anybody sick around them. They don't know what's going on, so why would they pay attention to it? So they may assume a sense of confidence or a perception of control to ... confront the situations that are actually risky."

    Our brains adjust the perception of the alarms to reduce the stress, so then it takes longer to respond to the warning or we ignore it. You might disinfect some groceries but not all or just wash your hands occasionally.

    INFORMATION OVERLOAD

    Caution fatigue also comes from cognitive challenges, said Eric Zillmer, a professor of neuropsychology at Drexel University in Pennsylvania.

    "Almost all of America is being confronted with an ambiguous, complex problem-solving situation," he added. "We've never been through anything like this, so it's ambiguous."

    The brain's way of processing new details is more difficult now because the method of obtaining them is mostly digital. Because of social isolation, we can't rely on the brain region that helps us contextualize information by processing intuition or social cues. Learning with people would help us process and positively reinforce responsible behaviors.

    We're trying to manage new, competing and ubiquitous information we haven't yet internalized, like we have driving a car through traffic. It doesn't help that the rules are always changing, or that rules and reopening phases are different on the federal, state, local and personal levels. Or that we really don't even like rules in the first place.

    We also haven't had the time to turn safety practices into habits. Since our brains like consistency, all these factors might render following guidelines exhausting and a moot point.

    An excess of information can make it hard to adequately read the environment, understand what's a true threat and whether you're doing enough to address it.

    Mitigate information overload by only reading relevant, credible information from a few sources to come up with a balanced viewpoint about what to do.

    Make safety practices into habits by setting up visual cues — for example, set your face mask on a table by the door to remind yourself to put it on before you leave.

    Social processing is imperfect right now, but it can help to talk with family and friends about what they think and what makes sense.

    "Then when you're confronted with the situation that you need to solve, you have many more tools in your toolbox," Zillmer said.

    REDUCE YOUR STRESS

    Heightened or newfound anxiety and depression can make you feel hopeless or depleted.

    With unemployment or family struggles, the increased stress leads to changes in how our brains function and how we behave.

    "If I have to go out and survive, I may pay less attention to my health and those safety precautions, because I'm not focused on that," Gollan said.

    Stress also makes it easier to forget things. Even if there's a chance of getting sick, being too exhausted can keep us from putting the brakes on currently inappropriate situations since doing so would require effort.

    "Complex decisions require a lot of energy and we can get tired when making those decisions about which risks are worth taking versus the rewards that we get," Gollan said.

    Reduce your stress by practicing self-care: When you can, exercise, cook a warm meal for yourself or meditate.

    Work on the values that help you feel good about yourself, Zillmer said. Feeling good is incompatible with anxiety and sadness, which can cause caution fatigue.

    SHIFT YOUR MINDSET

    You can't usually reproduce the initial survival instincts that kicked in at the start of the virus outbreak now that we're well past that first wave of awareness. So making smarter decisions also involves rearranging how you perceive risk and reward so that safety precautions no longer seem dreadful.

    Fear is no longer the motivation, so you need another source of inspiration.

    Ask yourself, "What's the reward I get for the choices that I make relative to what I'm giving up?"

    Maybe the reward is your health, or altruistically the health of your family or others. Or it's that you've mastered staying safe during the pandemic.

    Figuring out how you can safely do some part of your normal routine can give your brain something else to control besides limiting your reactions to threats. And you can still feel in control of your health.
     
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  7. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    NY Times has a piece on gentle exercises for better sleep:

    Rest Better With Light Exercises
    Stretching and meditative movement like yoga before bed can improve the quality of your sleep and the amount you sleep. Here is a short and calming routine of 11 stretches and exercises.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/10/at-home/exercises-for-better-sleep.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

    I'm not going to quote and cut pictures of each exercise, You should be able to access it all at the link. Try using your Google Login to get beyond the paywall, if you encounter. Or shoot me a PM if you can't get there and I'll do the cutting and pasting.

    Poses/Stretches are:

    Cat/Cow
    Childs Pose
    Thread the Needle
    Low Lunge
    Neck Massage/Balls
    Bear Hugs and Snow Angels
    Figure Four Stretch
    Knee to Chest Spinal Twist (personal note, be gentle on this one if you have sciatica problems)
    Legs Up The Wall
    Box Breath
     
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  8. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    Hi, Are you Doomscrolling?
    https://forge.medium.com/hi-are-you-doomscrolling-27c1d4bfff38

    Sometimes we forget about our own well-being due to stress about work or a high volume of news. Right now is a great time to think about if you need a glass of water, several deep breaths, or extra time to rest. You are worthy of this consideration.

    What does taking care of yourself look like? Is it exercise, reading more books, more time to eat breakfast, extra time to write, talking to friends, or additional rest? Would that help you more than doomscrolling?

    What do you have planned offline today that will help you rest, become reenergized, or simply make you happy instead of doomscrolling? A bike ride? A great book? An afternoon nap or overdue time with a hobby? Seeing a friend or doggies in a park?

    I hope you drank a big glass of water today and ate something that made you happy. I encourage you to log off of Twitter and Facebook and reach out to friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Consider setting time limits for your social apps.

    Doomscrolling might feel like an act of agency when so many activities aren’t available due to the pandemic. Why not use that agency to take care of yourself through a screen break, going to bed early, and/or doing another activity that makes you happy?

    Are you slouching or crunching your shoulders?

    Stress can make you contract your back and other muscles. Gently lift your spine up, slowly turn your head left and right, spread your arms and hands out, pull them back slightly, then give yourself a big hug. Feel better?

    Have you taken time to stretch your back and neck today? How about standing up, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly reaching down to touch your toes?

    Maybe you are also going through a deeply stressful time. How about doing 10 or 20 deep breaths before grabbing a glass of water and tackling more work?

    Stress manifests itself in many different ways. You might be clenching your jaw, slouching, fidgeting, or forgetting to eat. Give yourself five minutes to lift your spine, roll your shoulders back, gently stretch your neck, and get some water.

    I know you’re working hard and things are really tough right now. How about unclenching your jaw and giving yourself a screen break?

    Wait, are you still doomscrolling?

    If you are, I totally get it! Staying up late might feel helpful right now, but a screen break will help your mental health much more. Sleep is still important for your body to recover from the day’s stressors.

    Taking care of yourself through sleep, reading a book, or gentle stretching can help you better tackle the week ahead. And you deserve time to recover.

    Self-care can be small acts, like talking to a friend, watching a favorite show, or logging off and going to bed early. Remember to show yourself the same kindness you do to friends and loved ones.

    It’s okay to be tired and overwhelmed. It’s reasonable to be sad, frustrated, and angry.

    You still deserve nourishing food and adequate rest as well as screen breaks for your mental health.

    I know you’re trying your best. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your mental health. A full night’s rest is always a good idea.
     
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  9. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    24
    Pandemic Depression is about to Collide with Seasonal Depression. Make a Plan.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/seasonal-depression-covid-help/2020/10/26/5d93bbe2-1479-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html

    Lindsey Hornickel, a 25-year-old in Louisville, felt fine at the beginning of the pandemic. Although she has long experienced depression, Hornickel says, her mental state didn’t worsen immediately. In fact, she began overcompensating, taking on more work and pushing worries out of her mind.

    “I kept saying, ‘It’s fine, it’s fine,’ ” she says. Until, suddenly, it wasn’t. Over the summer, Hornickel’s mental health nosedived.

    “I went through a depressive swing. It was unbearable,” she says. Eventually, Hornickel told her roommate she wanted to die.

    Since then, Hornickel has been in a partial hospitalization program to treat suicidal ideation, depression and bipolar disorder, and she recognizes that her initial reaction to quarantine was a manic episode. Although she’s doing a lot better, there’s a nagging worry: wintertime.

    “For me, personally, the nighttime is really hard,” Hornickel says. “And when there’s not sunlight and sunshine and things to do — at that time in the winter — it definitely compounds those feelings.”

    Hornickel is describing seasonal depression, known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. It’s a type of depression that occurs when it gets colder, there’s less light and it’s more difficult to get outside. Mental health experts worry that, because the pandemic has already triggered depressive symptoms in many Americans, more people will experience seasonal depressive symptoms this winter.
    ...

    Although only a small percentage of people typically report seasonal depression (most estimates put it at 6 percent of the U.S. population for severe symptoms and 14 percent for mild symptoms), Wright says she wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another increase in depressive symptoms among the population in general as the cold weather compounds social isolation.

    Lisa Carlson, president of the American Public Health Association, agrees. According to Carlson, seasonal depression is more common in people who have a history of depression. “It may be the people who are at risk of seasonal affective disorder may be the same people for whom covid has already triggered depression,” she says. “So, we may have a lot of overlap in those people.” Carlson also says seasonal depression and clinical depression exhibit similar symptoms, including social withdrawal and weight gain, which may make it hard for sufferers to distinguish between the two.

    Regardless, providers agree: Now is the time for people who fear that they may experience symptoms of depression or that their depression may worsen during winter months to make a plan. And it’s an especially crucial time, because research has found that the transition from daylight saving time to standard time, or shifting the clocks backward, which happens Nov. 1, has been associated with a rise in depressive episodes.

    Here are some tips from both providers and people who have experienced depression and seasonal depression.

    Line up things that help: Joshua
    Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, advises: “If you know today is okay, but winter may be harder, lay the groundwork.” Gordon says this can include ensuring you have a steady supply of medication in case it becomes harder to get out, having a therapist lined up and scheduling weekly calls with loved ones. If exercise helps, make a plan to work out safely indoors during wintertime; Mark Riechers, a 34-year-old radio producer with an affinity for cycling, says that can provide structure and normalcy.

    Know your triggers: Be aware of what might trigger a depressive episode. Hornickel says recognizing her triggers helps her know when it’s time to seek more help; for her, that’s when she takes less care of her personal hygiene, including not brushing her teeth.

    She recommends writing down in advance the warning signs of when depression may be deepening — for example, when you stop taking care of yourself or your home.

    Get a light box or SAD lamp: These are lamps specifically created to mimic outdoor light. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says people with SAD should use one for a couple of hours in the morning during the winter. Wright agrees, but says if you can’t get your hands on a lamp, plan your day around maximizing sunlight: running errands during daylight hours or spending 10 minutes drinking coffee by the window. Emily Pfenning, a 26-year-old in Portland, Ore., who has experienced both clinical and seasonal depression, uses one frequently, both because she lives in an area with less sunlight and because she is fearful of going outside because of a lack of mask-wearing in her area.

    Figure out ways to stay connected: Wright says the instinct of some people with depressive symptoms may be to isolate, but she advises fighting against the urge, especially now, when isolating is easier to do. “Even during the darkest months, we know that human connection is really critical to managing our anxiety and depression,” she says. So, it may be time to get back to using Zoom or other remote ways to connect with people — popular at the start of the pandemic, but abandoned by some when fatigue set in.

    And try to broaden your support network beyond your loved ones. “Reach out to the people around you, find your online communities, just to know that you’re not alone,” Pfenning says.

    Gordon says talking to someone else about your feelings can also help you gauge whether you’re just feeling off or whether there’s something more serious going on. “For people who are thinking of harming themselves, talking to someone really helps,” he says.

    Take advantage of online therapy: Barb Foy, a 58-year-old retired social worker and mental health activist in Northern California, sees a therapist twice a month to treat her clinical depression, but to do so safely, they speak over FaceTime. It’s one of the tools she’s using to prepare for the winter months and to stay out of what she describes as a black hole.

    Telehealth, or virtual health care, is revolutionizing mental health care and making it more accessible, Carlson says. It can also make therapy a little less daunting for new patients, because it can be accessed directly from home.

    Preparing coping mechanisms such as this will do more than help mitigate depression; it will make people more prepared to handle new crises, Gordon says. “While the pandemic is a challenge to all of us,” he says, “it’s also an opportunity to build resilience.”



    There was a 5 minute video on dealing with COVID Induced Anxiety in the article, or you can link to it directly with this link:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/5-ways-to-deal-with-coronavirus-induced-anxiety/2020/03/20/6ed2aab8-8fab-4622-980c-cac2c2c87481_video.html
     
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