Editorial: During COVID-19, be kind
“Be Kind to Your Mind.”
That’s the message the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking all of us to remember during this pandemic. It’s also a fitting message for May which since 1949 has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month.
But there’s more to this rhyming slogan than meets the eye — or the mind.
The outbreak of COVID-19 can be stressful. Many of us may feel fear or anxiety about the disease and what’s happening to our economy, our jobs, our families and our relationships. This can become overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children.
According to the CDC, this stress can include:
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
• Worsening of chronic health problems.
• Worsening of mental health conditions.
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
How we respond to this high level of pandemic stress can depend on our backgrounds, the things that make us different, and the community we live in. Some of us react in ways that are inward and hard to spot. This inward response may be self-destructive. Others may react by openly striking out at others.
Here is the CDC’s list of people who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis:
• Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
• Children and teens.
• People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders.
• People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use.
The CDC offers these five tips to be kind to your mind to help cope with stress during COVID-19
1) PAUSE. Breathe. Notice how you feel
2) TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 content
3) MAKE TIME to sleep and exercise
4) REACH OUT and stay connected
5) SEEK HELP if overwhelmed or unsafe
This is good mental medicine for all of us.
Our local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) affiliates, NAMI Yavapai and NAMI Sedona, have another message they want to share this month — “You are not alone.”
These two agencies serve the Prescott communities, Sedona and Verde Valley.
NAMI’s “You Are Not Alone” campaign reminds us of the power of connection for those with or without a diagnosed mental illness. Collectively, all of us can make a positive impact on the millions of people who are struggling and feeling particularly alone given the current situation of social isolation and physical distancing.
There are excellent NAMI resources online that can make connection possible despite the current climate. The one we recommend is the NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide. The guide answers frequently asked questions on a variety of topics from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications. You can find the printable guide and other valuable resources at NAMI.org/covid-19.
One more thought we’d like to share -- along with the NAMI and CDC messages of “You are not alone” and “Be kind to your mind,” we also hope you will remember that there are many people out there who do feel alone and they may not know how or where to find help. Be kind to them. Share the resources you know about, such as NAMI.org/covid-19. As Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie once wrote, “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”
Direct link to the printable NAMI COVID-19 guide: https://nami.org/covid-19-guide
— The Daily Courier