Maintaining good mental health through the ongoing pandemic
By Russell Toof (Regional Health Command Europe)February 8, 2021
SEMBACH, Germany – The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has created new challenges for everyone. Normal routines have been replaced by unfamiliar isolation and adjustments to home-life, work, and school.“There are a lot of folks who are fairly fed up, frustrated, fatigued, and bored after a year of physical distancing,” said Lt. Col. Emile Wijnans, the director of psychological health for Regional Health Command Europe. “That’s particularly true for elderly, teens, and parents.”According to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, stressors during a period of social distancing/quarantine can include: frustration and boredom related to the isolation, insufficient information, and fears about becoming infected and/or infecting others.Wijnans advice is to accept that things have changed and may not return to pre-COVID conditions for a while or not at all. He says that focusing on what was, is a waste of energy.“You’ll be better if you accept the restricted movement, forestalled plans, restlessness, and isolation,” said Wijnans. “Be patient with yourself and others. More importantly, recognize and appreciate all you do have.”Wijnans also says one way to keep from focusing on those changes brought on by COVID is to commit to realistic goals you can control such as daily exercise, the amount of sleep one would get or diet.“Focus on the here-and-now and the short term,” said Wijnans. “Get involved doing immersive activities. It’s also import to reduce the amount of news you get from social media. Research has shown the more news you get from social media, the more anxious you get. So try to get your news from reputable resources.”Wijnans added that until the risk of COVID is substantially reduced, it will remain important to continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and to make an informed decision to get the COVID vaccine when it’s available.“We’re a resilient, social species and we’ll get through this,” said Wijnans.Behavioral health specialist like Wijnans encourage you to reach out for help if needed. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or counsellor. Have a plan of where to go and how to seek help if required.For more information on how to support your health and well-being during COVID-19, visit https://www.cdc.gov/, https://phc.amedd.army.mil/covid19 or https://www.cstsonline.org/.