Let’s be frank: coronavirus has already taken a toll on our collective psyche.

The virus has impacted just about every aspect of our waking lives. It has shut down our schools and many of our businesses. It is on our newsfeeds and TVs, day-in and day-out. Unfortunately for a growing number of people in our community, it is the cause of a loved one’s illness, or the reason they are filing for unemployment benefits in unprecedented numbers.

Covid-19 is one of the greatest sources of anxiety we are experiencing today, if not for all these reasons, but for the fact that we are all fighting it alone, together. Connected online, but not in person. Being social creatures by nature, it makes sense to beg the question: How do we maintain our mental wellbeing during these strange times?

According to Kyle Cardwell, Director of Klickitat Services at Comprehensive Healthcare in White Salmon, it’s important to maintain self-care.

“Self-care is different for everyone,” Cardwell said. “It’s doing things to take care of yourself,” he said, such as cooking, gardening, maybe even tackling projects around your house.

“I think part of it is doing something you enjoy that helps you relax,” Cardwell said.

Cardwell said social distancing guidelines are in place to protect our physical health but isolating yourself from social interaction can have negative impacts on your mental wellbeing.

“Sometimes we have to make tough choices. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk to people,” Cardwell said, noting how our society has adapted to this new way of life.

Loneliness is real, Cardwell said, but there are ways to mitigate it, especially since the internet has allowed people to connect with each other from around the world. That includes reaching out to people whom you think might have their mental wellbeing affected. Cardwell said its important to be willing to listen to others and refer them to a healthcare provider if it’s needed.

Cardwell said Comprehensive Healthcare is still offering its services to people, including services to treat substance abuse issues, but he encourages people to call their office at 509-493-3400 in concurrence with social distancing guidelines.

Programs for Peaceful Living, which serves and provides support for victims of domestic violence and abuse in Klickitat County, are also keeping their operations running. “We at Programs are available by phone at 509-493-2662 [Monday through Thursday] 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for telephone advocacy and we have our 24/7 crisis line for after hours calls (1-844-493-1709). Support groups and any in-person gatherings are on hold. Our [Domestic Violence] shelter will accept clients until full,” Director Kirsten Poole wrote in an email.

Poole noted that Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order specifically exempted victims of domestic violence from staying at home.

The Washington State Department of Health released guidelines for maintaining mental health during this time, as well.

State officials recommend people avoid consuming news that causes anxiety or distress and to instead seek out information from reliable sources “just a couple times a day.”

They also recommend to stay connected and maintain social networks while recognizing social distancing guidelines. They even recommend going for a walk or recreating while staying six feet apart.

Lastly, officials recommend introducing structure into your day. Even as your lifestyle and daily routine is altered, “structure and routine may be helpful for people with mental health vulnerabilities, especially during times of uncertainty.”

“Maybe we’ll feel better if we shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast,” state officials wrote in a Medium post.

Check out these resources listed below to better support your mental well-being:

CDC recommendations on managing stress during the Covid-19 outbreak (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html).

National Alliance on Mental Illness (https://www.nami.org/covid-19).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1800-273-8255).

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