Managing Anxiety and Mental Well-Being During COVID-19

This article is under these other important topics

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, seniors are asked to continue to stay home and self-isolate. For many, as stay-at-home orders have gone from weeks into months, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep anxiety and worry in check.

In a recent Psychology Today article, “Mental Health in a Time of Pandemic, The psychological effects of an outbreak,” author Sandro Galea M.D. said research into disasters and similar events and their impacts on mental health include effects like “depression, PTSD, and substance use disorders.”

Here are some of the steps we’re taking to reduce anxiety and maintain mental health among our senior living residents and we hope they can help support your wellbeing too!

New call-to-action

Stay active.

Our mission at Vitality Living is to create vibrant communities where residents, families and team members can be themselves, live purposefully and experience a profound sense of belonging. When the pandemic began we quickly put precautions in place based on CDC guidelines – before they were even required in many cases. And just as quickly we realized that all these precautions could easily dismantle the environment we’ve worked so hard to create – if we let it. That’s why, as we implement guidelines and recommendations from the local, state and federal government, our Leadership Team also makes sure we never lose sight of what our communities are all about.

Making physical activity a priority will pay off for a healthy body and a healthy mind. Spending time in nature is especially beneficial because you get fresh air, hopefully a little sunshine, and relief from being indoors. That’s why we’re encouraging residents to spend as much time as possible in our beautiful outdoor spaces and courtyards. You can do the same at home.

It’s important to continue to exercise as well. The National Institute on Aging recommends seniors do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week. To break this down, an active senior could exercise approximately 20 minutes per day, seven days per week or 30 minutes per day for five days per week. We encourage a combination of endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises.

You could try brisk walking or jogging for endurance, but while you are out in public, always remember to practice social distancing to protect yourself and others. At home, even yard work or climbing stairs count! For strength, if you have some hand weights around, try arm curls while watching your favorite show or doing pushups while waiting for coffee to brew in the morning. Balance exercises could be as simple as walking heel-to-toe to the mailbox and for flexibility you could try yoga. The YMCA is offering free on-demand yoga videos and a range of other options for seniors.

Our mission at Vitality Living is to create vibrant communities where residents, families and team members can be themselves, live purposefully and experience a profound sense of belonging. When the pandemic began we quickly put precautions in place based on CDC guidelines – before they were even required in many cases. And just as quickly we realized that all these precautions could easily dismantle the environment we’ve worked so hard to create – if we let it. That’s why, as we implement guidelines and recommendations from the local, state and federal government, our Leadership Team also makes sure we never lose sight of what our communities are all about.

Choose news carefully. 

Truthful and unbiased news is a key to understanding the daily realities we face and to maintaining a hopeful and healthful state of mind. News that is scientifically sound and incontrovertible would seem to be the best choice during a pandemic, but there remains a lot of “news” that is neither. Rather than guess, take a look at reputable sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for up-to-date COVID-19 information.

We’re also live-streaming daily COVID-19 updates from executive directors at each Vitality Living community to provide the opportunity for families to ask questions and get updates as they’re announced.

Get news in moderation. 

In a Psychology Today blog titled, “How Much Coronavirus News Should You Watch? How to balance pandemic preparedness and panic,” Wendy L. Patrick, J.D., Ph.D., cites a study during the 2009 Avian Flu outbreak that “found television exposure to be highly correlated with worrying about contracting the disease.[iii]  Specifically, they described this concern as a ‘pandemic of fear,’ which they argue can be spread by a more virulent source than a human carrier—the news media. They note that the resulting pandemic fear precedes an actual pandemic, and requires a separate solution.” In short, Patrick said “The authors note that their findings suggest the more television watched, the higher the level of anxiety about health threats such as H5N1.”

Instead of watching the news, spend time in the kitchen, preparing a favorite dish or dessert; play your favorite music; listen to stand-up comedy routines; watch a movie that you know will lift your spirits; or spend more time with your pet – they’ll love the attention! We’re taking our residents on virtual field trips since we can’t go out. Here are some favorites: San Diego Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, Yellowstone National Park, the Louvre in Paris, the Great Wall of China – even Mars!

Embrace the positive.

Facing an insidious and almost invisible foe like the coronavirus can make anyone anxious and fearful. But rather than let negative feelings overwhelm us, Benjamin Cheyette has a better idea: People should “collectively reaffirm the central value of ‘Social Vitamin C’.” That is: Courtesy, Consideration, Caring, Community, and Compassion.

In his Healthy Prescriptions blog in Psychology Today titled, “Combating a Mental Health Pandemic, Covid-19 Highlights the Importance of ‘Social Vitamin C,’” Cheyette says the COVID-19 pandemic has put us all on a level playing field because it is “a major ‘psychosocial stressor’ for everyone on Earth at the same time—it thereby increases the prevalence of emotional problems across the board.”

With that in common across humanity, Cheyette notes “The ‘vaccine’ for this aspect of the pandemic is to reaffirm and strengthen the bonds that tie us together.  Now is the time to remember the 400-year-old meditation of John Donne: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Thus, if we each practice Social Vitamin C with our family, friends and especially strangers, it will help to inoculate the planet with the kind of values we will be proud to share and carry forward.

We’re trying our best to keep residents connected as well with creative ideas like window visits between residents and loved ones; we even provide fun conversation topics and encourage games like window Tic Tac Toe and Show & Share. We’ve also had some family parades which were a huge hit with residents and associates alike with 100s of families participating with signs of love and support. Perhaps your family, friends, and/or neighbors could have some fun like this too!

No matter how you choose to spend your time at home, do your best to keep smiling and remember we are all in this together. The better we treat ourselves and each other, the better off we all will be when the pandemic is over. Stay home, stay safe!

We’re still welcoming new residents to our communities – safely! To learn more, contact us to schedule a virtual tour.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email