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How to cope with emotional strife during a time of uncertainty, fear and anxiety

Taking time for ourselves, reaching out to others and making use of resources are recommendations to maintain emotional stability. | PAID CONTENT
Credit: LetsTalkCo.org

COLORADO, USA — CONTENT SPONSORED BY LET'S TALK COLORADO.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an especially important observance this year as Coloradans are experiencing heightened feelings of stress, worry and other powerful emotions, side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dr. Glenn Most, Executive Director at West Pines Behavioral Health, sadness, anxiety and tension have spiked in conjunction with the pandemic. Although we’re presented with a lot of information about the physical effects of the virus, he said we don’t spend nearly enough time focusing on the psychological impacts affecting each and every one of us.

Most said the toll the virus is taking on individuals is reflected in our outward behavior.

“The first signs that we saw from people was the fear, anxiety. That’s coming out in various ways, it’s coming out in anger, and distrust, and it's prompting more negative conversations versus positive and helpful conversations.”

For the past three years, Most has worked with Let's Talk Colorado , a statewide campaign by public healthcare agencies, hospital groups and community partners working together to get Coloradans talking about how mental health affects all of us. The campaign relaunched this May to give Coloradans tips to handle the stress, sadness, uncertainty, and other emotional effects of COVID-19.

To ease the burden of COVID-19 in a healthy, productive way, Most recommends putting aside time to focus on yourself, and taking time to connect with others.

“It’s the thing that we neglect the most, is taking care of ourselves, and each other,” Most said. “It is, I think, the most important thing to do during this pandemic.”

A simple thing we all can do is reaching out to others and talking about how we’re feeling. There’s no “wrong way” to do this, Most said — it’s simply important to open up and show we care by checking in, whether it be by phone, text or virtual calls.

Talking to someone we trust about what we’re going through can relieve stress and boost our well-being, Most said, while checking in on people we know, especially those who may be isolated, can go a long way to make them feel better as well.

Other strategies recommended by Most and other providers in the Let’s Talk Colorado coalition include:

  • Establishing structure by sticking to a routine
  • Taking breaks for yourself
  • Exercising (even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes a day)
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Limiting exposure to the latest news on the virus
  • Resting

Times may seem bleak, but Most said it’s important to focus on positive, uplifting stories of people helping one another during the pandemic, as well as talking about the more enjoyable, lighthearted parts of our lives when we connect with others. It’s essential to remember that we will get through this, and Most thinks that society, as a whole, will be able to come back even stronger than before.

“People are very resilient, and we are going to rebound from this. I think we’re going to be stronger as a community because we have had to work together as a community in a way that we’ve never had to work together before.”

Though the public conversation about mental health has become more open in recent years, Most said stigma about discussing mental health persists. He and other members of the campaign believe a shared experience such as COVID-19 can help Coloradans understand that paying attention to the way we think, feel and act is as important to our well-being as managing our diet or blood pressure.

A core value of the Let’s Talk Colorado campaign is that the community’s mental health is everyone’s responsibility, and those who are struggling are more likely to seek support — either from a friend or a professional — when we understand that everyone faces challenges to their mental health at times.

And at times like these, that’s a message we all need to hear.

For more tips to cope with the stress and other effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to find resources to help you or someone you care about, go to the  Let’s Talk Colorado website.

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