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Local therapist and a wellness trainer recommend ways to manage stress during a pandemic

Local therapist and a wellness trainer recommend ways to manage stress during a pandemic

By Nancy Price

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly all of us in some way. From those stressed due to layoffs to families living, working and studying under one roof at all times to individuals living and working alone, we’re bound to experience some anxiety, depression and loneliness.

“People are coming into our office and not really knowing what they’re experiencing,” said Joel Hutton, a therapist with Indy Therapy and Counseling on the Southside. “People in relationships are not used to spending so much time together. Some people are on furlough; they don’t know what to do with themselves.”

“People are definitely feeling disconnected and isolated,” added Megan Hider, a wellness trainer with Eskenazi Health. In addition, “I think people are feeling they are spread too thin. People are feeling like they’re not meeting expectations like they normally would because they’re trying to meld their work and personal life. It’s all interwind and stressful for people.”

Indy Therapy and Counseling therapist Joel Hutton. (Submitted photo)

“People have unrealistic expectations for themselves,” added Hutton. “There’s a significant loss of confidence, self-esteem, their overall view of themselves.”

Hider advised that people be good to themselves during this time. “The worst thing you can do is say you’re not doing enough,” she said. “We’re doing the best we can. Everyone needs extra kindness, grace and compassion.”

As well, people need to remind themselves that it’s OK to not be OK. “You don’t have to take on any mental health challenges on your own,” Hutton said. “Reach out and be vulnerable with those who truly care and love you.” As well, if a loved one reaches out, “listen and not try to fix their problems. You can say, ‘I see what you’re going through. Tell me more.’ Ask them, ‘what do you need?’”

In addition, reach out to your kids, Hider advised. They also miss their daily routine of connecting with their friends during and after school and attending extracurricular activities.

Megan Hider is
a wellness trainer with Eskenazi Health.

Hider recommended that people can manage their stress by waking up earlier to have their coffee or exercise. In addition, they can practice meditation and deep breathing. “That’s an easy, fast and cheap way for stress management,” she said.

Movement is also key to managing stress, according to Hider. Take a break to move along with a yoga video, take a walk with your family, ride a bike and use weights with exercises.

Also, be careful not to isolate. “Be involved, event if it’s virtually,” Hider said. Call friends or family, use FaceTime to connect with others, or schedule a Sunday morning coffee hour to chat before an online church service.

Still feeling stressed? Schedule a time to worry, advised Hutton. “Schedule time to not have to worry now,” he said. “Tell yourself, ‘if I worry, I’m not going to do that until 7 or 8 p.m. That’s my worry time.’”

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