Greetings and I hope this information finds you to be in the best of health as we all find ourselves continually challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eight months in and all have had to make major lifestyle adjustments to stay safe such as testing, wearing a mask in public, social distancing, and extra hand washing.
Some of us may find this to be a nuisance, but when we listen to the Scientists and the raw data and statistics, currently over 220,000 Americans alone have succumbed to the novel coronavirus. The world-wide total of deaths resulting from the coronavirus is staggering to conceptualize, and the overwhelming grief and loss we all had to face this year is very disheartening.
Our families have had some major adjustments to their lives. Some people have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs, and schools and houses of worship have had to shut down to keep our children, families, and congregations safe. This has placed additional hardships on all of us financially, socially, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It has caused us to re-think and be creative to not only ensure safety, but also to seek out some form of normalcy for our own and our children’s well being. Families are at home all day with each other. At first, this seemed to be great to see each other every day – all day. But, after a while, we may have experienced “cabin fever” and felt the need to just get out of the house. Some may have had a loved one who was hospitalized and subsequently died, but they were not allowed to have their families with them to hold their hands and to tell them, I love you, due to the contagious, deadly coronavirus disease. The grief is overwhelming.
Anxiety, stress, sadness, and depression can easily set in, and people can lose perspective and hope – when is it going to end? Domestic violence, substance/alcohol abuse, and suicides are on the rise. Taking care of your mental health and keeping a positive mindset is very important as we navigate this pandemic. Anxiety and stress can make a person feel fearful as worry sets in about finances and figuring out how to pay bills after being laid off or furloughed. If you notice family or friends withdrawing or isolating themselves from others, this can be a red flag that they may need an intervention. Here are some signs or symptoms to look for: restlessness, fatigued, difficulty concentrating, tightening of the muscles, being short or augmentative, and interrupted sleep. These are all indications of anxiety.
Symptoms of stress are closely related to anxiety in addition to experiencing a traumatic event: being laid off or furloughed—no paycheck and no definite date of returning to work—can cause a person to start drinking to numb the reality that they are faced with, experience low energy, and struggle with completing everyday tasks.
When a person loses hope, suicidal ideation and fleeting thoughts of self-harm may increase and they may believe that “If I were not here, others would be better off without me.” Drugs and alcohol, which impair judgment, may increase their risk of carrying out a plan to self-harm.
This pandemic has caused us all to do things differently, but the goal is to keep all of us safe from this deadly respiratory disease. It is highly recommended that we try to keep some sense of normalcy to our daily routine like cook your favorite meal for the children and your family; get ice cream; celebrate birthdays and anniversaries; go shopping wearing a mask; go for walks or bike riding; plant some flowers; and get some fresh air – breathe!
There is hope, and help is available 24/7. Anyone of these resources is a life line and provides the needed resources until we can go back to a more normal routine and living a healthier lifestyle. Be encouraged! Stay well and stay safe! Practice good mental health!
Resources for Mental Health Intervention and other Basic Needs:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Domestic Violence: (800) 799- SAFE (7233)
Substance/Alcohol Abuse Treatment: (800) 854-6025 or (844) 998-1907
Homelessness: (800) – Shelter or (800) 743-5837
Women Shelter: 24 hour hotline: (412) 687-8005
Unemployment Insurance – Michigan: (866) 500-0017
Dr. Ruby J. Bowens, LMSW
Clinical Social Worker/Christian Counselor
Perspectives of Troy Counseling Centers