Maintaining Positive Mental Health During an Ongoing Pandemic
As the pandemic has drawn out, older adults have been particularly hard hit with the burden of social distancing. The summer months have provided some relief, with the ability to get outdoors and enjoy activities in the fresh air. But the coming of colder weather signals a return to life indoors and concerns about the ongoing pandemic. These concerns can cause depression, anxiety, stress, and feelings of isolation. Read on to discover why mental health matters and how to keep those feelings at bay during the longer winter months.
Why Does Mental Health Matter?
When a person is strong mentally and emotionally, they are happier, healthier, and more resilient. Difficult and uncertain times, like these, can be challenging to mental health, particularly in older adults. And that challenge can leave older adults at risk for depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. During a pandemic, these feelings can increase dramatically, causing acute suffering, which, in turn, has a dramatic effect on quality of life. Maintaining positive mental health can offset the effects of these feelings.
Most importantly, remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. There are many ways to maintain connections and engagement with others, from friends and family to the community at large. The following are a few suggestions about how to maintain good mental health during the pandemic.
- Stay Healthy
Keep up with doctors’ appointments: talk with your doctor about how you’re feeling, and make sure you address any physical issues. Stay physically active—enjoy a brisk walk on a fall morning, meet friends for pickleball, or throw the ball for the dog. Avoid substance abuse and eat healthy foods that support your body.
- Stay Connected
Staying in touch with family and friends has become so much easier with technology, new and old. Start up a pen-pal letter exchange—it’s exciting to get a personal letter in the mail. Or call someone on the phone—the sound of someone’s voice provides a great feeling of connection. Engage in some of the newer technology—FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Twitter, Snapchat, and texting are just some of the technologies that can help you keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Many are easy to set up—ask a friend, neighbor, or family member for help.
- Stay Active
There are many things to do from the comfort of your home to connect with others. The list is endless: online board games, book clubs, live concerts and symphonies, theater productions, and art museum tours. There are often organizations that need people to call members of the community—that’s an easy way to stay connected from the safety of your home.
- Limit News
Catch up in the morning and at night, limiting yourself to 30 minutes or an hour, and that’s it. There’s no need for 24 hour-news. Not much changes that rapidly, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the endless news cycle.
And finally, reach out for help when you need it. The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help whether in times of normal stress or pandemic. We want to help you find the path to your best life. If you need help, contact us to learn how a professional counselor can help you cope with anxiety, depression or if you are feeling overwhelmed.
The Center Support Line at 970.252.6220 is available 24/7 for free if you just need to talk to a caring, trained professional. For appointments, call 970.252.3200.
Archbald-Pannone, Dr. L. (2020, March 10). A geriatrician offers 4 tips for seniors to stay connected during coronavirus outbreak.
The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/a-geriatrician-offers-4-tips-for-seniors-to-stay-connected-during-coronavirus-outbreak-133233
Miller, J. (2016, Feb 16). Why Older Adult Mental Health Matters.