Lauren Ford, Psy.D., clinical psychologist, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center
You’ve heard time and again that older adults are at a higher risk for severe illness related to COVID-19. So, you continue to stay home and physically distance from loved ones to protect yourself. But it’s been months and it seems like there’s no end in sight.
As a result, you may be experiencing higher levels of stress, feelings of loneliness, and maybe even hopelessness. You’re not alone. Many Americans are increasingly experiencing “COVID fatigue.” Even former first lady Michelle Obama recently addressed the mental toll the pandemic has had on her.
Balancing your physical and mental health can be challenging, but there are many ways to cope with “COVID fatigue” and the feelings that can result from it.
Staying Connected with Loved Ones
It’s important to know the difference between physical distancing and social isolation. Even though you’re taking precautions to protect your physical health, you still need social connection. Technology is a great tool to help you stay in touch with family and friends. Luckily, there are many resources available for this purpose.
If you don’t have access to a smartphone or computer, you also can consider sending a hand-written letter, personalized card or even have flowers delivered to your loved ones. Bringing joy to others is a great way to help yourself feel better by expressing your emotions and creativity.
Sticking to a Healthy Routine
It’s understandable that physical distancing can make enjoying your retirement difficult. It’s also important to find ways to adapt or create new routines that still include important activities. Continue a healthy routine by:
Recognizing Your Feelings
Take time to recognize when you aren’t feeling the same or suddenly feel overwhelmed with sadness or worry, which can be signs of anxiety or depression. Other signs to look for include:
It’s completely normal to feel some stress or worry. Being healthy doesn’t mean being worry-free. If you feel like you need someone to talk to, there are several toll-free hotlines you can call:
Although these resources are available to you, mood and anxiety disorders require help from a health professional. Your primary care provider can work with you to create a personalized treatment plan to help you manage your mental health and cope with the changes we’re all going through. They can refer you to a therapist or psychologist for additional support.
Find a primary care doctor who can help you cope with these unprecedented times at memorialcare.org/Providers or call 800-MEMORIAL.
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