David Casey is the wellness health promotion manager for DeCare Dental. David Casey, RDN holds a national certificate in biology and a specialist in oral health with health promotion. He has just finished his M.A. in Health Promotion with specialist interest in mental health and workplace wellbeing at the school of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at NUI Galway and guests lectures on the outreach postgraduate health promotion programmes.
The World Health Organisation is encouraging people to seek information from legitimate sources only. They state we need to connect safely with those who are isolated, and to curb exposure to news that makes them anxious or distressed. The sudden and near constant stream of news reports about COVID19 can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts not the rumours and misinformation. Facts can help to ease anxiety and aid in the promotion of positive mental health. Facts minimise fear.
Emotions such as anxiety are important as they orient us towards a threat and help us decide what to do next. Factual information keeps us informed as the situation develops. However, checking your phone every five minutes to monitor developments can only serve to increase your anxiety. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. Fear and anxiety can keep us healthy and safe but also can be harmful to our health. It’s important to ask ourselves how we manage that fear. Look at fact based sources such as the Dept. of Health, WHO and the HSE. Fear can lead to stigma and mark people out as different and prevent them from seeking medical help. It is important not to attach or feed wording leading to discrimination in any ethical group. Covid-19 is now a global issue affecting everyone.
We need to keep empathy and kindness in our minds as we hear about new cases and numbers. These are people, families and loved ones in our community. While following the World Health Organisation guidelines of maintaining a social distance, people should safeguard against becoming socially isolated. We need to be mindful of people who may be feeling alone. While you may not be able to make physical contact with a person who is feeling isolated or alone, it’s really important to still reach out to someone who might be isolated or vulnerable at this time, or be an identified at risk group. Video calls, phone calls and social media are all ways of safe social contact.
Older adults and people with underlying conditions can be supported and encouraged to do regular exercising, cleaning, daily chores, and fun activities such as singing and painting. It is also important to have a plan in place if practical help is needed, like calling a taxi, having food delivered or requesting medical care.
Evidence show that good relationships with family, friends, colleagues and the wider community are important for mental wellbeing. Make time each day to connect with your family, friends and colleagues through calls, video what’s app etc. Check on elderly neighbours and if they need anything while following social distancing.
There are lots of things we can do each day to mind our mental health in these challenging times. Being kind to ourselves and being kind to others around us is key at this time. This can make us better able to get through these low points looking towards the positive things we have. This includes talking about what’s going on for you, eating well, sleep, keeping active and keeping focus of being kind and compassionate.
Remember we will get through this. In these tough times we need to place focus on protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. The key with these unprecedented challenges is that we face it together.
Spread the word, not the virus.