2021 is right around the corner which is bringing a gimmer of hope to many who struggled through 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s still going to be a difficult holiday season and winter for those who may still be feeling isolated as the country continues to battle increasing COVID-19 numbers by social distancing and canceling social gatherings.
LifeBridge Health Dr. Drew Pate, who’s the Chief of Psychiatry at Sinai Hospital, spoke to WJZ’s Denise Koch about coping with feelings of isolation or sadness related to the pandemic. He also addressed the “winter blues” and those battling depression in addition to anxiety.
“One of the things you really want to be thoughtful about is sort of maintaining an awareness of our emotions and where they stand,” Dr. Pate said. “Some people feel stress more physically. Some people feel that more psychologically. How do you express that stress and how can you sort of measure that? You can measure your emotional temperature.”
Dr. Pate said you must monitor your emotions so that you can actually react and respond to it preemptively rather than waiting until you’re so nervous worried, feeling down or blue.
He said people should build things into their daily schedule to cope with their emotions like a few minutes of breathing exercises. Yoga, exercise and staying active is incredibly important during stressful times.
Pate said self-care is important every day, too. Finding small things to enjoy in life like taking a minute to enjoy a cup of coffee, take some time to catch up with a friend over the phone.
He also said people should not look at their routine as a stressor but look at their routine as a constant to alleviate stress.
If you’re having a hard time getting up out of bed, Dr. Pate said doing your daily self care, keeping contact with your friends can help. But if you find yourself more isolated, tearful, crying and unable to stop — or it’s coming out of nowhere — it may be time to reach out to for professional help.
The first step is to reach out to a primary care doctor who can refer you to mental health services. There’s many ways to get help now, he said, like telehealth services, mental health apps and more.
Watch the full interview with Dr. Drew Pate above.