COVID-19: Mental health and physical health are not two separate things

Special to The SUN
Mental Health Colorado President and CEO Vincent Atchity released the following statement:
If you’ve ever doubted that mental health and physical health are closely related, you’re probably not so doubtful anymore.
As we learn about more cases of COVID-19 and all the measures that are being taken all over the world, you may find yourself growing increasingly anxious. Our mental health and physical health are not two separate things.
Some anxiety is normal, especially in times like these. But we need to be careful not to let our anxiety get the better of us. Our anxiety has an influence on everyone around us, especially children. Use conversations with your children as an opportunity to convey facts and set an emotional tone.
Accept anxiety as an integral part of human experience. Try not to overestimate the threat or underestimate how well you can cope and adapt. We tend to exaggerate the danger of unfamiliar situations.
In addition to the physical prevention measures you’ve surely learned by now, there are important things that you can do to support your mental health and ease the anxiety you and your friends and loved ones likely feel.
Stay busy and engaged in the necessary activities of life. Make a conscious effort to be present to your immediate tasks and surroundings. Avoid consuming toxic amounts of information about things over which you have no control. Be physically active, preferably outside, where the sounds and sights of the natural world, and the sunshine, can help put the drama of our human world in a healthier perspective.
Help someone who may feel alone. As immunocompromised and high-risk patients are being advised to stay home as much as possible, some of us may experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. Offer to run an errand for someone who is at higher risk of getting sick. Take this time to call a longtime friend, chat outside with your neighbors or send a care package.
It’s in times like these that we have an opportunity to make ourselves most valuable to others and that is good medicine for distracting us from our worries about ourselves. Times like these also offer us all an opportunity to pause and reflect — alone and together — about how much we value our lives and each other, and about how much we depend on our communities to sustain us and help us thrive. This kind of reflection is also an excellent anodyne for our mental health, especially when it reminds us to put our values into action.
If you feel like you need more support during this time of uncertainty, visit our resource page.
If you are more seriously concerned about your own mental health or that of someone close to you, you can call the Colorado Crisis Services at (844) 493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.
So, remember to breathe. Focus on what you can control. Take the recommended steps from public health officials. And don’t miss this chance to practice active kindness to all.

This story was posted on March 28, 2020.