Social Isolation is Hard: COVID-19 and Your Emotional Health

[Guest Article by Dawn Finney, Behavioral Health Therapist at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital]

For many in our Snoqualmie Valley community, the current coronavirus outbreak is triggering increased anxiety.  These are really challenging times and the constant stress we are being put through sometimes feels unmanageable. 

If you are having a hard time sleeping, concentrating, motivated or feeling like yourself, you are not alone.  Although we are slowly coming out of the quarantine, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the news, worried about your friends and family and unsure how to navigate these waters.  Maybe you’re actually doing all right, but finally have the time to slow down and need somewhere to unpack emotions that are finally coming to the surface. 

Isolation is hard on us. We are meant to attach and be connected to others.  The daily interactions that we have feed us and let us know that we’re ok and that life is normal. Right now, all of that is turned upside down – and if you’re feeling the impact of that change, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself.  

Fear, worry and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and sometimes when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown.  So it is normal and understandable that people experience fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Today, the ordinary risks of loneliness could be magnified by the stress of living during a pandemic.

It’s common to feel stressed or anxious during this time.  It may be especially hard for people who already manage feelings of anxiety or emotional distress. 

Recognizing how you’re feeling can help you care for yourself, manage your stress and cope with difficult situations.  Even when you don’t feel that you have control of a situation, there are things you can do. 

Right now, all of this is turned upside down and if you’re feeling the impact of that change, it’s more important than ever to practice self-care.

Some tips for managing worry and stress during this time:

  • Take care of yourself through exercise and movement and adequate sleep. 
  • Follow healthy daily routines as much as possible.
  • Do meaningful things with your free time.
  • Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks.
  • Question your thought pattern and challenge your fears and ask if they are true and notice the areas you can take control. 
  • Practice focused, deep breathing.
  • Write down what’s making you worried – getting it out of your head can make it less daunting.  

Some problems in your life may feel tolerable, whereas others feel overwhelming and unmanageable. Regardless of the intensity, severity, and frequency of your problem, no issue is too small or too big to benefit from therapy. 

There are many reasons people seek therapy: grief, anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction and relationships are among the most common. What better a time than now, when you’re safe at home, 24/7, and possibly anxious about the word’s current state. I’m helping people in that process through online/telephone therapy sessions. 

[Dawn can be contacted at dawnfinney@outlook.com]

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