Mental Health During COVID-19: Tools to Help You Cope With Fears and Anxieties
David Gutterman, PhD, shares tools to help you cope with fears and anxieties during the COVID-19 pandemic in this week's 2 Your Well-Being segment with WFMY News 2.
What advice can you give to those who are trying to cope with fear?
“That's a great question. There has been so much conflicting and different information depending upon what you're listening to or what you're reading. So, number one: be very clear with yourself. What exactly are those fears? And then make sure you contact reliable medical sources - going to Cone Health's website, or the CDC – and finding out factual information regarding what your specific fears are.
“And it's even more challenging, I think these days, because what's happening is there seems to be a divide - some people have very little fear and some people have extreme fears. And so that makes people who have those fears wonder if what they're feeling is normal – and it's perfectly normal, especially after the shutdown for this long.”
What things can we do to still feel connected to family and friends while practicing social distancing?
“Right, that's a great question. We've been saying this from the very beginning of this, when we knew we were in for the long haul: to make sure and utilize those tools that are accessible to us - like we're doing right now - using Zoom or using technology to stay in touch with our loved ones, whether they're far away or even close-by. People are doing some very creative things to stay in touch: having Zoom meetings with friends, Zoom parties and weddings, and all kinds of things. But it is important to stay in touch with people now as we are moving along in the in the social isolation.
“I think what's happening now is that people are doing social distancing and trying to get together with small groups of people, and staying outside and keeping their distance from one another, and that's another way that people are combatting that sense of isolation.”
When should someone seek professional help from a counselor or mental health provider?
“In terms of seeking counseling, I think first of all, most of us out here who are working in the mental health world are still meeting with our clients, meeting with our patients via Zoom and telephone. So help is still out there and available. Cone Health Medical Group or LeBauer HealthCare, we have counselors standing by and ready to meet with folks at any time.
“But what you can do is you can call your primary care physician. You can call a counselor and just talk to them over the phone about what you're feeling to see if it's something that fits within the norm, and is it something that counseling might be some help with.
“Sometimes it's really talking to people who you are the closest with, who you trust the most, and sharing your feelings and recognizing that your feelings generally are not unique – that other people are having a lot of the same types of anxieties, fears and stresses that you are.”
How can talking with a counselor or mental health provider help you cope with fears, stresses and anxieties?
“[Fear, stress, or anxiety is] a kind of thing that can become debilitating if you let it fester in your mind for a while, when in fact, if you speak with someone, sometimes just having a few tools that will help you de-stress a little bit and help you understand why you're feeling the way that you are feeling and that it’s perfectly normal [to feel that way] - it's such a relief to get those strategies. [The strategies] will help you make that transition, when we are ready to move beyond where [you] are now.
“I highly suggest it - it's a wonderful opportunity that is available online without having to leave your home, where you can talk to someone and get some help.”