Coronavirus: Mental Health Recovery Board offers tips for preparing mentally for the winter with the pandemic

Dr. Greta Mayer, CEO of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison counties
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Dr. Greta Mayer, CEO of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison counties

The Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties is urging residents to create a pandemic mental health plan before winter begins.

The shorter daylight hours pose new challenges to staying resilient and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Greta Mayer, CEO of the MHRB said,

“Going outside and being able to socialize or exercise safely are undoubtedly some of the ways people have been staying positive through a stressful time,” Mayer said. “It most likely will not be any safer to socialize indoors or travel during the holidays than it is now, so figuring out the logistics for meeting our mental health needs during this time is a crucial exercise.”

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Mayer offers the following suggestions to help mentally prepare for the winter:

  • Get a flu shot. “Just like the coronavirus, the flu is easily transmissible,” Mayer said. “Fortunately, getting a flu shot can offer physical protection and peace of mind.”
  • Establish a relationship with a mental health professional. “While help is available, not all levels of care or methods of delivery are immediately available,” Mayer said. “Face-to-face and telehealth options vary across providers and it’s easier to find what you need before you or a loved one are in crisis.”
  • Invest in a light therapy lamp. “Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a drop in serotonin levels that occurs when daylight exposure decreases,” Mayer said. “A light therapy lamp helps replace some of that feel-good lighting. Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if using light therapy is right for you.”
  • Establish boundaries and ground rules with loved ones. “Just as we do now with limited social gatherings, set the rules for who you interact with and how to ensure everyone is on the same page before the holidays,” Mayer said. “With COVID-19′s unpredictability, planning for several options and building in flexibility can help manage expectations for yourself, your friends and your family.”
  • Start looking for indoor hobbies. “When you can no longer go out for your daily walk, morning run, or tend to your pandemic garden, learning a new skill or hobby is a great way to stay active and focused on moving forward,” Mayer said.
  • Create new traditions and adapt old ones. “That cookie exchange might be done through the mail this year or going caroling might take place over a group call,” Mayer said. “With a little creativity, you can continue connecting with loved ones and creating new memories that will outlast the pandemic.”

“The holidays will be different this year, but that does not change the way we feel about our loved ones or our ability to stay connected with one another to celebrate,” Mayer said. “If we try to remember that we are in this together and that help is always available, we can get through this together.”