On a day that is about hearts and love, some people might be struggling with reconnecting with others due to COVID-19 and the impact that it's had on emotional and mental Wellness. So we want to take this time right now to kind of get away from the talk about chocolate and flowers and talk about how important it is to take care of your mental Wellness. For today's two. Your well being, we are joined by Doctor David Gutterman, licensed clinical psychologist. And clinical director of Lebauer Behavioral Medicine and licensed clinical psychologist Dr Jenna Mendelson. Alright, so first and foremost doctor Metal said, let's just kind of talk about how important is it really to take care of your mental Wellness? 'cause I think sometimes we just think I'll just be fine.

It's crucially important to take care of our mental Wellness on a physiological level. Emotions are physical experiences and they have a real impact on our physical health as well. For example, if there's a 2016 study that found that 30% of heart attacks are directly attributable to psychosocial factors like stress, so it's it's a real physical experience to be stressed out. Plus, it doesn't feel good emotionally. So even just. For that reason, it's important to take care of our mental Wellness. I think you know when something hurts, like physically hurts. We are more acute to that and we just think, oh, we just need to, you know, just figure it out and move on to the next thing.

So that is a really great reminder. Doctor Gutterman, what impact has living with COVID-19 now for two years? Had on emotional Wellness and people's ability to positively connect with others. What are you seeing? It the impact tenure has been significant, and in fact I think it it. It's far beyond what any of us really anticipated. First of all, we didn't anticipate this would be going on for two years, but we've seen huge spikes in reported depression and anxiety, sleep disturbance and even substance abuse during these past couple of years. And it's for all the reasons you would expect.

The length of time this is going on, the isolation, the uncertainty. I think compounded by the fact that what we have seen is that the understanding of of COVID. It's a moving target and they've been learning so much about it as we've been going on these last couple of years. So it appears as though for many people that the information we've been getting is is inconsistent, when in fact this is a normal learning curve as we learn more about the virus, the recommendations shift and they change. But it's very frustrating in that that lack of understanding of that. And the uncertainty of the future just contributes to all the the mental health stress that we feel. Definitely does a number on us alright, so Doctor Mendelson let's talk about these impacts. I know he kind of gave a big picture of the impacts, but the impacts on children. If so, does it so show up differently then it shows up in adults. So certainly the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us at.

It does seem to have had a slightly different impact on children than on adults. A 2021 meta analysis that was actually conducted internationally found that children have been less impacted by social isolation as a result of COVID-19 because they've had family there the whole time, but they have been more vulnerable to this stress, and the psychopathology of their parents and. Unfortunately, this is especially the case for children in homes where abuse has been a factor. They've been just that much more vulnerable as the parents are more stressed out and there aren't as many people outside the family involved in the care of the child to bear witness to what's going on. Alright, so let's kind of talk about some suggestions. Alright, so doctor Gutman.

What suggestions do you have to help people who may be struggling emotionally while we are continuing to live with this? Well, it it is vitally important. Self care is vitally important at a time like this. It's always important, but especially throughout this pandemic. So several things. First of all, take care of your body. That is something that's easily forgotten, so making sure you get sleep and and create a regular schedule for that. Participate in regular physical activities as much as much as you can. Safely eat healthy and in addition to the chocolate. That you get tonight. Make sure you eat that you eat healthy, that you know junk food does is not good for one's mental health. Avoiding alcohol and drugs in in in significant amounts of certainly limit screen time. It's a big one. We're all spending so much time on the screen that limited especially 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime, 'cause that helps disrupt your sleep and relax and recharge is is important as well, so that's taking care of your body. Take care of your mind. I'd reduce those stress triggers whenever possible.

Maintain a regular schedule for all of your activities throughout the day. Limit your exposure with all due respect to media where at depending upon what the media is, there's the potential for false information. Making sure you get good information from reliable sources is is vitally important as well. Stay busy. That is, hobbies, reading, writing games, cooking all kinds of activities, keeping yourself busy is really important, and maintaining positive thoughts and their thing I would say is connect with others. We have figured out very creative ways to connect with others during this pandemic. Virtually so, virtual gatherings with friends. And as you know now if you there are recommendations about how to gather in person safely when to wear a mask.

Outside versus inside. So whenever possible, connect with others and do what you can to help others reach out to those who might be isolated or you know need some contact. Helping others also helps ourselves. Alright, So what about if we need help and I'm going to specifically go to this to parents who need help, right? Because the struggles and the feelings you know are kind of like bubbling up to the surface a lot. Doctor mendelson. How do we keep that from making that rub off on our kids? Yeah, it's it's so tricky. I think doctor, Doctor Gobin made a good point a few minutes ago to you know. Parents have really been on the frontline of trying to navigate the recommendations and you kind of think a certain activities OK and then it seems like it's not and it's just such a shift playing field.

So I think an important first step is just to acknowledge that this has gone on for a long time now and this is hard. I'm a big believer in meditation, but I saw a quote online that I thought was funny and kind of stuck with me that you can't meditate your way. Out of a 40 hour work week with no childcare, this has been, you know, many parents have been just asked to do the impossible and are just doing their best right now where you can access all the social support that's available to you so that you have adults that you can vent to, not your kids. That is really important, taking advantage of what childcare options are available to you.

If you have family members in the area that are able to help that you can have some time to. Perform some self care that can be be really helpful and certainly when those moments happen that you maybe aren't your best self around your kids. Maybe you blow up a little or or you actually anxious just to give yourself some grace and remember that those moments too can be an important teaching opportunity for kids to see what you do to calm yourself down. And if you don't have the wherewithal in the moment where you're kind of losing it, repair. It was a really long way with kids to come back afterward and say, you know, I really don't like how I spoke to you a few minutes ago, but I've had a chance.

You know, I had a really big feeling. I've had a glass of water. I've had some deep breaths and now I'm feeling a little better. Let's talk about it now instead of ignoring it and passing it off. Really meeting it head on so that both of you can learn together and they can understand that it's OK to be stressed sometimes and we all need to learn how to handle it, alright?.



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