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Coping with COVID

By Michelle Fortune

 

I visited with my parents on Facetime yesterday. This is our new way to stay connected since we can’t see one another in person right now.

Like many families, ours enjoys hugs, so social distancing has been quite challenging. It has been most difficult on my father for many reasons. He is a people person extraordinaire. He loves to talk to anyone he meets and is the first to give a handshake, a hug or a pat on the back. Since he will be 80 this year and my mother has a disease that makes her high risk, they are fully committed to staying home.

We discussed the fact that the mitigation efforts of this virus have had consequences on our nation as a whole and on us, personally, in many ways. We can easily understand the physical health portion of this impact as well as the financial impact on many who are out of work or whose businesses are unable to operate during this difficult time; however, just as important is the often harder to see emotional impact this unnavigated territory has on everyone.

During this time, it is very important that we care for our emotional health as well as our physical health. You may experience fear or anxiety about yourself or those you love contracting the virus. Some people may feel a sense of depression that their normal routine has been disrupted. Many of us have found our way to the pantry one too many times over the past few weeks searching for comfort foods (I am speaking from experience here). All these are signs of the emotional stress that this virus is creating, and we need to be sure we are working to care for our emotional health as well as our physical health.

Just as we wear a face mask for protection, we need to intentionally engage in ways to protect our emotional health. Perhaps, simply taking a walk outside, working in the garden or enjoying a great book is the solution. It may be a connection on Facetime or Zoom that enables you to see your loved ones eye-to-eye as you chat about your day.

At St. Luke’s, we have worked to implement the use of these digital platforms, so patients can see and talk with their family members on their electronic devices. We have also encouraged our hospital teammates to utilize the Employee Assistance Program, a free benefit offered to employees of St. Luke’s. We offer our employees stress reduction videos, tips and counseling with a professional to strengthen their resilience.

For the community, our Senior Life Solutions program offers the ability to connect and have support with professional therapists. We have had many Seniors report that this has helped them navigate times of great change. The Senior Life Solutions team stands ready to help those who may need emotional support. Other providers in our community offer similar resources, and I urge you not to neglect your emotional health. None of us have ever been through a situation quite like this, and we need each other for support during this challenging time. Your medical provider, pastor, priest or social network are all contacts that remain important. Connecting with your circle of family, friends and neighbors in meaningful ways right now is more vital than ever for your wellbeing.

So, be sure to watch an online church service, sew a mask for the Tryon Arts and Crafts “Mask 4 Masses” partnership, walk your dog and take advantage of the excellent resources that are available in our community. Talented professionals are waiting to hear, help and support you and your loved ones. We are here for you!

#StLukesNCStrong

The team at Senior Life Solutions can be reached at 828-894-9890. Michelle can be contacted at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org.