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When we feel stressed now: What’s different and how COVID-19 changes everything

Can you remember the beginning of March and the changes that were coming your way?

Maybe your child’s school was suddenly talking about closing its physical doors or your employer was checking in on your capacity to work from home. You might have been looking at options for staying safe at work - seeking out masks, gloves, and protective gear, because your job was deemed essential.

If you turned on the news, media messages were focused on hygiene safety, no more hugs or handshakes as greetings, and repeated warnings to wash your hands frequently and refrain from touching your mouth and nose.

It was a surreal time as we collectively learned how to live with the risks of the coronavirus.

While it would be nice to say all of that is behind us now, it wouldn’t be true. Four months later and the stress, if anything, has increased. Whether we know someone who is sick or not, we are all feeling the strain of extended isolation, fear, and an uncertain future. So what can we do?

Mental health experts say first it’s okay to acknowledge the strain and understand we are not alone in feeling the way we do. In an article on mental health and COVID-19, Melissa S. Ahaesy, M.Ed, a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in elder mental health, told Coastline’s Senior Scope magazine that she reminds her patients that it’s important to understand they are not alone and to not brush their feelings off and tell people they are “fine.” “Everyone feels alone right now. We’re all feeling lonely and out of sorts,” she told Senior Scope’s editor Seth Thomas. Elders, Ahaesy said, have “been raised to not ‘bother’ people. But, when they say they’re fine, they don’t get that extra phone call from a grandchild.”

For those feeling stressed or anxious, Ahaesy recommends taking a break from the news and spending some time outdoors walking or sitting with a friend. Most of all, she and other mental health experts, say if you need someone to talk to, reach out and ask for help.

For more tips, including a list of local resources to call, read the full article here. For more information from Coastline, sign up for Senior Scope here.

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