Wednesday, May 27, 2020
It’s hard to believe that only 10 weeks ago a global pandemic was declared. These are unprecedented times that have impacted our health and wellbeing. Whether it be large-scale business shutdowns, stay at home orders or physical distancing, seniors are particularly vulnerable to isolation and feelings of depression.
Luther Village’s Social Worker Donna Faus, M.A., R.S.W., has been trying to combat this by offering 1:1 support to residents. Donna’s expertise as a Mental Health Clinician means she is well equipped to provide tips, resources, and a listening ear during the COVID-19 crisis.
Donna shares this analogy to help us understand personal wellness,
“A vehicle requires fuel and regular maintenance to operate effectively. Without maintenance, the vehicle can run poorly or stop running altogether. Similarly, our bodies and minds need ongoing nourishment and care. This is achieved in part by eating healthy, being physically active, getting proper sleep, and practicing mindfulness.”
Another critical component to personal wellbeing is one’s emotional health.
The National Center for Emotional Wellness defines this as “an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change”.
As we live through this pandemic, we see how it can provoke sad, distressing, or uneasy feelings. In some individuals there may be the tendency to deny them or push them away.
In her work, Donna reminds us of the importance of acknowledging all feelings, including the negative, as ignoring them can have prolonged and negative outcomes. She recommends allowing yourself to grieve and to process the global crisis at your own pace. Talking to a professional can also help. There are many counselling supports available that can be accessed from your own home using technology. “Don’t be afraid to speak with someone about your feelings”.
According to the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, feeling grateful and appreciating others triggers hormone production and the regulation of the immune system. Donna believes that practicing gratitude has other health benefits which include lifting one’s mood and creating more positive thoughts. These are especially important during this pandemic when many of us are isolated and experiencing loss. Reflect on the things you can do and the positive things you are grateful about.
Tips for maintaining your emotional wellbeing during a pandemic:
1. Exercise. Go for walks or safely exercise in your home. Nothing feels better than moving your body and getting your blood flowing.
2. Be aware of information overload. Schedule ‘down times’ and limit the amount of information you take in. While reading, watching TV, or scrolling the internet are good past-time activities, they can take away from quiet time to self-reflect.
3. Maintain routine. It could be as simple as getting dressed rather than staying in pajamas for the day. Try to go bed and get up at the same time as you did prior to the pandemic.
4. Eat healthy. Eating nutritious meals is an important way to nourish the body. Avoid skipping meals or snacking excessively. Stay hydrated and drink lots of water.
5. Reflect on things you are thankful for. Focus on the things you can do! Call, or video chat with friends or family if possible. Listen to music, work on a puzzle, knit, sit outside, garden or cook. Immerse yourself in hobbies and other activities you enjoy.
The following are resources you may find helpful at this time:
Condolences in the Time of COVID-19: Guidance for Conveying Your Love and Support:
The COVID-19 Mourner’s Bill of Rights:
This Pandemic of Grief:
The Centre for Loss and Life Transition:
Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre at UCLA:
There are local numbers seniors can call for mental health supports:
Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247
Distress Centre: 519-745-1166