Editor’s Note: This article is part of BeaverCountian.com’s ongoing series, “The Beaver County Coronavirus Chronicles,” the county’s historical experience of the pandemic. Click here to see more of the series.
Beaver clinical psychologist Dr. James Huha of Beaver answered his phone today, saying he’s been inundated with patients’ calls.
“Most of us are really, really running,” Huha said of he and his peers. “Many mental health professionals are receiving calls from patients because they’re having anxiety from the pandemic situation.”
Huha said patients are watching too much TV and listening to too many varying accounts of what’s happening and it’s causing hysteria and extreme anxiety. He said we need to concentrate on accounts that are based on solid, scientifically based data and from scientific organizations.
“I think people tend to allow their minds to catastrophize about this,” he said, adding that he personally believes the pandemic response is under control and everything will work out.
Another county mental health professional with a master’s degree in counseling couldn’t identify herself or identify whether more people have been seeking advice because of her work restrictions, but she provided some exercises Beaver Countians can be doing to squelch any anxiety they feel.
Most anxiety, she said, is likely stemming from feelings of loss of control: control over your future, control over your movements.
There are ways to “take back your power,” she said of these “grounding exercises.”
First of all, follow CDC guidelines, she noted, then “eat the meat and spit out the bones.”
Media reports can be overwhelming, she said, and recommended condensing the news to what can help you in your immediate life and “spit the rest out.”
Focus solely on now, not tomorrow, “stay in the moment.” When you’re overwhelmed, use your five senses to identify a designated number of immediate things. For example: five things you can see; four things you can touch; three things you can smell; six things you can hear; and two things you can taste.
That exercise will help to calm you and bring you back to the moment, she said.
Take a walk if it helps you in the moment. “Dance,” she said. “If you’re at home and you don’t have to go to work, dance in your living room.”
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