Mental health expert gives advice for coping with COVID-19 stress

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A mental health professional talked about how people can all prepare, including how we can help kids cope, as they return to school.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Lovelace Medical Center, Dr. Justin White, said the pandemic brought-in an influx of people seeking help from therapists.

"We know that it’s had a pretty significant impact,” said White.

He said conditions easing this summer did help many people out.

"That opportunity to be outside, enjoying activities with family and friends and kind of returning to a sense of normalcy definitely has a positive impact on depression and anxiety."

White gave advice for coping with the worry that is creeping back in — for many people.

"The very first way we cope with that is by acknowledging those real emotions. Instead of kind of pushing that away or trying to deny what we’re feeling, the frustration, the anger, the disappointment, that kind of rush of different things, both the good and the bad, is really just acknowledging it."

"Re-framing it, not so much as it being catastrophic, or really disappointing or that we’ve failed, but that we’ve had some successes. We’ve had some setbacks, and we know how to get back to a place of success again is going to be important to keeping that positive mindset."

The doctor talked about those dealing with the sense of failure, that people who really sacrificed during the stricter restrictions, may be feeling.

“It’s not uncommon for people to feel, again, that kind of range of emotions that go from sadness to disappointment, or even resentment or anger toward those in our community, those in maybe our own families, and so, again, acknowledging those feelings are there and also really try not to personalize how the situation around us is unfolding."

Many parents are having to talk to their kids about the COVID resurgence.

"It’s important to try to give answers as best as we can and to not try to dismiss or soothe those anxieties with misinformation or a darkness surrounding what really is going on."

White said a candid conversation is best and an attempt to normalize COVID precautions like mask wearing.

"Trying to integrate the things we need to do to stay healthy into those routines is going to be a key way to help to overall reduce anxiety about the realities of where we’re at now,” he said.