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Dani Fallin, chair of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discusses the psychological and emotional challenges that arise during social distancing.
This is an excellent article to use to introduce our digest of articles on the COVID-19 pandemic. It is from a reputable source written by an experienced and knowledgeable professional. The article itself was transcribed from an interview with Dr Fallin. She begins by reiterating what we hear over and over – that the pandemic poses a unique set of challenges that are likely to persist in one form or another into the near future.
Of particular interest in this interview is the effect that social distancing and isolation can have on our emotional and mental health. Specifically, disruptions in normal social interactions can result in increased depression and anxiety.
Making matters even worse, there is the fear that we might contract the illness and the anxiety that is produced by watching 24-hour news about the pandemic. This makes for a difficult combination of factors all working together. Her advice is that we name our feelings accurately and that we recognise that our feelings are a normal human reaction. People are encouraged to reach out to others for support, comfort, and companionship.
She also offers several key pieces of advice. First, limit the time you spend on news and media outlets. Take breaks from the news, limit your consumption to outlets you trust and to programmes and people who do not upset you. If you can no longer tolerate the President’s claims, blaming, and name calling, then turn him off.
The information you get won’t be worth the agitation it creates. Remember, your goal is to get to calm, not to get more anxious and aroused. Stay away from what upsets you.
And finally, there is the challenge of maintaining peaceful relationships inside our homes. Her advice here is simple: be gracious, kind, and forgiving. We are all under a lot of stress and we are going to get on each other’s nerves. And remember, the stress we are all feeling will make underlying conditions worse.
If you tend to be anxious or depressed, if you tend of to obsess over things, be careful, because these feelings could intensify. Most of all, be kind and forgiving toward your fellow ‘travellers’ – As you will hear over and over, we are all in this together.
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