Therapist: ‘Find the good in each day’

Published 6:18 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

A visible, palpable panic of adults over the COVID-19 virus shows adults are fearful, but there are ways to relieve stress and replace fear with calmness, Brookhaven therapists say.

Evidence of panic from the highly contagious virus can be heard in conversations and seen on social media posts and empty grocery store shelves. Also, there’s fear from news of stay-at-home orders for non-essential personnel elsewhere.

Experts say adults’ response to fear and fear-mongering can scare others, especially children, the feeble and those at high-risk from the virus.

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Worries may include a layoff at work or reduced hours; the need to stay home with children whose schools or daycares have closed; changes at businesses, and the need for essential items, such as food and medicine.

“Try not to catastrophize,” said psychologist Anne Houston Craig.

To catastrophize means to think a situation is much worse than it really is.

“It’s important to stay informed and keep up with news updates, and to follow safety precautions, but it’s important to participate in life,” Craig said.

“Try to separate what you can control and can’t control to get your feelings off of uncertainty. It’s important to participate in life. There is only so much you can do. So participate fully in what you can do.”

Richard “Rich” Balkcom agreed with Craig. He’s counselor for Brookhaven and Lincoln County schools and pastor of Southway Baptist Church.

“Instead of panicking and hoarding until the stores catch up with merchandise, I think people need to take an educated, sensible and discerned approach so we don’t get upset and alarm others,” Balkcom said.

Craig and Balkcom shared these tips to promote calmness:

• Connect with and check on others by phone or social media.

• Go outside.

• Exercise.

• Spend fun time with family. Play board games or cards and watch movies.

• Start or enjoy a hobby.

• Read a book.

• Keep a regular sleep schedule.

• Eat healthy.

• Offer to pick up prescriptions or buy groceries for elderly neighbors.

Craig and Balkcom agreed that helping those in need while keeping a safe distance of 6 feet is important to your state of mind and your health.

“Find the good in each day instead of feeling overwhelmed and anxious,” Craig said. “If you are able to help someone else, you will have a good feeling.”

Life as we know it is slowing down and changing, Balkcom said, “but what a wonderful time to show kindness and goodness to someone who is struggling.”

The closing of churches is “disheartening,” he said.

“Now, more than ever, people need to lean on their faith,” Balkcom said. “It’s really hard to close the door of your church and say we can’t meet.”

“Most churches have gone to live-feed services or social media-type platforms. It’s wonderful that we have this technology.”

While cases in Mississippi are increasing — at least 80 by Friday and five in southwest Mississippi — the state hasn’t seen as many cases as some.

State officials hope closing schools and the use of safety precautions will help reduce the virus’ spread here. Only one death statewide has been reported from a case in Hancock County.

Story by Robin Eyman