Ask Dr. Halverson: 'Be a hero'

By Dr. Jim Halverson
What are you enduring during the COVID-19 outbreak? Loss of income? Job loss? Loneliness? Anger? Fear? Boredom? Fatigue? Loss of routine? We all share this common fact. Life has changed significantly in the past two months.
Tens of millions of Americans are diagnosed every year with mental-health problems — most commonly anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Even for people who haven’t been diagnosed with anything, this is a really anxious time. According to mental health experts, typically one-third of those living through a trauma such as we are experiencing will see some kind of mental-health aftereffect like depression and anxiety. To make matters worse, it is a difficult time to seek help as many mental-health providers are not offering counseling in person, and support groups are not able to meet.


The effects of stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
— Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
— Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
— Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
— Worsening of chronic health problems.
—  Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
There are many actions you can take to combat these feelings. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Exercise outside in our beautiful valley. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Set a daily routine, maintain a sense of purpose, set achievable goals and stay productive.
Above all, stay connected to others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Do a simple act of kindness for someone. Be their hero. So many of you already are. 





Think of what you have done over the last several weeks. Have you: Comforted a worried friend? Spoken your opinion? Practiced social distancing? Donated your time, talents or money? Spent meaningful time with your family? Helped the sick, lonely or worried well? Worn a mask to help others? Taken good care of yourself? Given encouragement? Put the needs of someone else above your own needs?

Remember a time in the recent past when you have helped another and felt good about it. So much encouragement and support are needed now. Stay helpful. Stay positive. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Continue to be a hero.
— Dr. Jim Halverson is a longtime Ojai physician who is providing updates on COVID-19 to the Ojai Valley News.

Not a subscriber?  choose your subscription plan.