As we go through this COVID pandemic together, most people are experiencing a collective traumatic experience, according to Reeco Richardson, PhD, Clinical Therapist from Hurley Mental Health Associates. Kudos Magazine sat down with Richardson to discuss the effects of the stress caused by staying home for long stretches of time during the COVID crisis. He said that, contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t always a bad thing.
“Some levels of stress are necessary for us to do the things we need to do, then there is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). People who have GAD will find themselves overwhelmed. They exhibit shortness of breath and extra levels of fatigue, as well as a general feeling that they’ve run out of time,” Richardson said, adding that there are some things to be concerned about, considering what’s going on in our communities. He said it is best to try and keep things going as regularly as possible, emphasizing the benefits of staying active.
He also advises staying grounded by enjoying as many familiar activities as possible. “Consistency is key,” he explained, if you find these things don’t help, look at your diet and increase exercise to combat the physical changes that diminished mental health can have on the body. Be mindful of what is going on around you, use your support system, and don’t isolate yourself, as is often the tendency when going through a difficult time.
There is no need to go through these things alone, Dr. Richardson assures us. Try to connect and talk to friends and family members instead. He says we need people around that know us, know our schedule, as they often notice the mental and physical changes that can preclude problems, sometimes even before you, yourself, recognize the symptoms.
Reeco Richardson, PhD said, “The changes might start with not having the energy to do things, feeling out of sorts and just not clicking on all cylinders. These are signs that depression is high. Knowing these signs will let you know you need help from a licensed therapist who will collaborate with other mental health professionals to help you find your way back to being centered.”
Because these problems can snowball rather quickly, Dr. Richardson recommends not waiting too long to seek professional help. You can wake up one morning in a full-blown depressive streak, and it is always better to be proactive regarding your mental health, as you can sometimes ward off these more serious issues.
During COVID, more and more people are reaching out to get the help they need to address the common problems that occur during a collective trauma, such as strained relationships. You may need another helpline; need a way back to doing things you love. It is an act of bravery to seek help from a professional therapist when self-care and your support system aren’t enough.
“Hurley Mental Health Associates in Flint are having in-office appointments now but are also offering some telehealth appointments. More people are keeping their appointments because of the flexibility of video therapy,”
Richardson said, also offering some words of wisdom for essential workers. Since their work can be overwhelming, normal stress levels of the work they do can lead to acute stress, which has the potential to turn into traumatic stress. Encourage everyone to take care of himself or herself. If they might not be able to take a day off work, there are still ways to protect their mental health. Try to be as centered as possible, stay well-rested, listen to music, and talk to friends. Reflect on why you do the job–not just what helps you fill those hours during the day–and think about giving back to those in need. Whatever allows you to find a place of calmness.
COVID has been affecting kids. While staying home might have been fun at first, being cooped up in the house without seeing their friends begins to take its toll. While Richardson acknowledges the teenagers have had a harder time with not being able to see their friends, he says that the pandemic has been affecting kids as young as five years old.
A suggestion for parents is to make family time count. Do the things that have fallen to the wayside due to parent’s former more hectic schedules and kids being in school. Family is so important to children right now and connecting more with the special people in their lives is a good way to keep children from being overwhelmed.
To get in touch with Dr. Richardson or another therapist, call 810-262-2100. There are over 30 licensed therapists and medical personnel, including psychiatrists, physician assistants, and other support staff.
Their office is at Hurley Mental Health Associates
1085 South Linden Road, Ste 150 Flint, MI 48532
Kudos Magazine Volume 6.2 By Hope Crenshaw