Stay Mentally Healthy in a Stressful Time

By 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, March 26, 2020
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Courtesy photo
Taking healthy steps as simple as playing with your children (left to right: Milla and Pema Wilhelm of Red Lodge) during stressful times builds a resilient community.

There have been a lot of changes lately. Schools and businesses closing. The neighborhood restaurants and bars have been shuttered. Folks are asked to stay at home, forego trips, flights, even going to the movies. Many people feel uneasy these days, even apprehensive and fearful about the future.  

Roberts resident, Alan Bauer, psychologist, with a counseling practice in Billings, recently spoke to Carbon County News about how neighbors are handling the viral pandemic. “It reminds me of the aftermath of 9/11,” he said. “People feel vulnerable, they feel we can be hit. Just talking about the illness brings up fear, making you feel helpless. We can’t fake it or just say we’re ok. Children pick up on these emotions, because it is a legitimately scary thing. If their parents have a solid, loving relationship, the family can pull closer together. A family that is not safe with each other, however, may pull apart. 

The way in which parents answer their children’s questions will reveal how comfortable they are in communicating within the family unit. It is wiser to tell the truth, Bauer added, saying that with children, “confidence in their parents is the key factor.”  

He advises folks to answer children’s questions patiently, try to see what is on their minds. People need a safe place. It is wise to take healthy steps, gather some extra food, take advantage of elders in the community who have successfully gone through difficult times. These things can comfort people. He noted that there is no quick fix in this situation. This is something some people have been planning for, while others will worry almost as protection from being surprised. 

Anxiety helps us to recognize threats, it can make us take care of ourselves. Bauer said, “In a time of crisis you have to come together with people you feel safe with; it is hard to feel safe with people who are over-or under-reacting.” 

 

 

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