Bergen Magazine recently published an interview with CBH Care Executive Director Sue Devlin about how people can best cope with stress during the COVID-19 crisis. The Q&A is below:
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: Social media and news outlets tend to report on our physical health amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s easy to forget that our mental health is important too. Sitting cooped up at home with limited social interaction can take a toil on our emotional well-being. So BERGEN asked Susan Devlin, a licensed professional counselor and Executive Director at CBH (Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare) Care in Hackensack, for tips on how to reduce anxious or depressed thoughts until this uncertain period ends. She suggests these five:
LIMIT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA INTAKE: Watching too much of the news or spending too much time on Facebook and Instagram increases our anxiety, Devlin says. She recommends that you “designate a specific time each day for news and/or social media.”
BUT USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: Though many of us have been logging into Zoom or other video platforms for work purposes, aim to use them on a personal level too to catch up with family and friends. “Whether it’s a FaceTime, a virtual meeting or phone call, maintaining that connection is very valuable,” Devlin says. This is especially important for elderly people who may be more isolated than ever.”
MAINTAIN A ROUTINE: Just as it was before the quarantine began, establishing a routine for everyone in your household-for instance, having a designated lunchtime or a specific time of day to go outside-is imperative for your mental well-being. “This will allow you to put your work aside and better manage the boundary between work and your personal life,” Devlin says. “It also allows your children to have some stability and structure.”
TAKE A BREATH. If your mind just won’t stop, try this breathing exercise: Inhale to the count of four through the nose and exhale to the count of four through your mouth. Focus on your breathing. After four or five breaths, try to concentrate on the sounds around you, whether it’s the birds chirping or a car driving by outside. “There are many free apps that can assist you with mindfulness, mediation, relaxation, and visualization,” Devlin says.
GET MOVING: Devlin and other experts advise getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, ideally with a walk outside for fresh air. But if the weather is inclement or you can’t get outside, Youtube is a great resource for at-home workouts intended for people of all levels and abilities.
If you think you need an expert’s help, though, you won’t have to wait until COVID-19 has departed. Many providers, including CBH Care, are offering teletherapy appointments for patients, including adult partial care and kids’ after school programs. “We want to ensure that this fragile population is connected and served,” says Devlin. Call CBH Care at 201.646.0333 for more info.