Local psychologist gives tips to improve mental health during social distancing

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UNION, WV (WVNS) — People are socially distancing themselves due to fear of contracting COVID-19, but you do not want to distance yourself too much.

Licensed Psychologist at Monroe Health Center, Alicia Walker, said disconnecting can lead to distancing not only from friends and family, but from yourself.

“We are faced with a lot of information that changes every single day,” Walker said. “So, when we’re in a situation like this, we’re not really sure what we’re supposed to do, how to handle it, how to protect ourselves.”

Walker said this can lead to un-managed stress which can manifest as clinical anxiety. There are things you can do you combat these feelings, such as immersing yourself in nature, taking up a new hobby, and even practicing some meditation.

“Getting involved in Yoga, a workout video, do some mindful based activity like deep breathing, visualization,” Walker said. “Something that brings you to the present and gets you away from the stress and anxiety of things we can’t specifically control right now. We can only control our day to day behaviors.”

Although the world is limiting physical contact, medical professionals can still reach you. Psychologists are using new ways to help patients talk through their feelings. Video Chat-based websites are helping psychologists connect with their patients during this time of social distancing.

“I’m really proud that the medical and the psychological community, and even providers are really trying to come up with avenues to reach people,” Walker said. “In order to comply with the social distancing and staying home to protect ourselves and our communities, these platforms are available and are now being pushed through.”

Walker said knowing when to get off social media can be beneficial for mental health, as it can make you feel more isolated. She said using apps like FaceTime can help combat feeling alone.

Walker also said it is important to remain mentally present in times of crisis. To do this, you can periodically write down your thoughts and feelings.

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