Shelter-in-place order adds emphasis on mental wellness
During an unprecedented time filled with fear and stress, mental health increases in value as communities strive to remain focused through panic and disappointment. In an age surrounded by instant news and digital headlines, levelheadedness allows individuals to cope with stress to endure the COVID-19 pandemic without added anxiety and health issues.
The coronavirus outbreak is unlike any most Americans in 2020 have faced in their lifetimes. Widespread panic over a virus scientists are still studying and researching procures concern from many. Couple this with the unforeseen suspension of nearly all pro sports and the indefinite delay of on-campus schooling, Americans are encouraged to practice social distancing and wait for state and city updates.
With California governor Gavin Newsom issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order, March 19, Californians adopted a lifestyle at home. This newfound routine posed a challenge to civilians as issues over childcare, job losses and sick relatives arose. During the shift, a focus on mental health surfaced among students and adults.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best ways to cope through the shelter-in-place time include taking breaks from the news, partaking in exercise and organizing time to unwind. The CDC describes these methods and more as imperative steps to care for themselves amid the panic.
In a poll conducted by the Washington Post from March 25-30, it was discovered that nearly half the US population feel the pandemic has affected their mental health. These numbers reflect a sentiment that has been touched on countless times through the terror. Those suffering from virus-related anxiety are not alone.
In the following podcast, junior Kyle Clem discusses prioritizing mental health with Valley Children’s pediatric surgeon Dr. Mike Allshouse.
Psychologist Desiree Dickerson wrote a column for Nature that outlines her top methods of managing stress levels and continuing productivity in an alternate atmosphere. She recognizes the familiarity of a routine and a sense of normalcy as necessities during this time.
“[Routine] helps to manage anxiety, and will help you to adapt more quickly to this current reality,” Dickerson said. “Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your head space. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related that brings you joy.”
With nearly 200 confirmed cases in the San Joaquin Valley and 11 reported deaths, the numbers continue to climb during attempts to flatten the curve. With San Francisco electing to extend the shelter-in-place order until May 3, other local cities anticipate the same fate.
Other large counties including Santa Clara county and Los Angeles county look to be the next to follow suit. These counties post numbers of 1,019 cases and 4,566 cases respectively. With a prolonged shelter period in place, the relevance of maintaining mental wellness grows. During this segment, a glimmer of hope remains that these defensive measures will end soon.
The World Health Organization (WHO) details their best methods to preserving mental health.
This is actually valuable advice, and I reckon applies to Twitter as well. pic.twitter.com/Fp8U3gb1ww
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) March 10, 2020
Doctors around the California coast have continued treating patients with the coronavirus and expecting the worst. While the flow of patients has continually risen, the numbers have not reached the expected amount doctors first anticipated. The absence of this surge of cases alludes to the fact that shelter-in-place orders have currently been successful.
Pediatric surgeon, Dr. Mike Allshouse sees the best way to remain calm through social distancing is to remain knowledgeable on updates and ways to cope with the coronavirus. He recognizes how this challenge has affected his daily routine at Valley Children’s Hospital and forced him to alter his approach.
“I think the most important thing is to be knowledgeable about what you need to do to be safe and protect yourself,” Allshouse said. “Then, share that with other people. The way I was trained as a pediatric surgeon was I should be involved with all the phases of my patients’ care. Now, we’ve decided that everybody leaves the room except the anesthesiologist. That’s a totally different approach to what we’re doing.”
Allshouse continues to recognize the value of human interaction through this time of social distancing. He believes that the best thing to do currently is to seek out contact and continue to remain connected with friends and family.
“Studies of humans look at what makes people happy,” Allshouse said. “It really doesn’t have to do with money, fame or accomplishment. It’s how many deep personal relationships you have. This tends to make us less interactive. I’ve watched more YouTube videos in the last two weeks than the rest of my life. After a while I decided I can’t do that anymore. I’m texting and calling my friends and checking in on them and I always feel so much better afterwards.”
Riley Goldsborough, ‘21, believes in the value of maintaining mental health during this time. He has chosen to fill his spare time by partaking in drawing and playing instruments.
“I think it is important to focus on mental wellness during this period of time,” Goldsborough said. “People aren’t used to being in this sort of isolation for this long and it can get quite lonely. Especially for those who don’t have many siblings. Recently I’ve been preserving my mental health by drawing, playing instruments and focusing on some of my other hobbies.”
High school math teacher Angie Counts and her husband, Russ Counts commit their time to counseling others. Angie recognizes the importance of mental health during this time and devotes herself to retaining a consistency in lifestyle.
“I think that mental wellness is crucial during this time,” Angie said. “Due to having so much time on our hands, our minds will get idle and wander. My husband and I were just counseling someone this morning about depression. Having your scripture reading set out in a routine manner and having your exercise in a consistent manner makes a difference.”
Senior Shauna Howard has focused on staying connected with friends and discovering tasks to perform at home. She has also placed an emphasis on maintaining a routine throughout the day.
“Personally, I’ve been focusing on my mental health by keeping in touch with friends,” Howard said. “I’ve also been finding projects to do while at home. I try to keep a routine and occasionally go for walks so that I don’t feel trapped inside all day. I think this is a great opportunity for us to make an effort to get together with people we may not always talk to.”
As the coronavirus modifications continue, some of the top methods for remaining mentally focused are staying connected with friends, maintaining a steady routine or picking up a hobby to occupy time. Taking steps toward mental health improves personal motivation and relationships with family members during the shelter-in-place.
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