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From The Health Team – by Bonnie Harmon

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
March 20 2020

As chair of our Health Team, I have been receiving many emails, from several great sources, about how to help people combat the stress of isolation related to Covid-19 response. There is so much information out there right now, it can almost be more overwhelming than the virus itself!  As an RN and the former Supervisor of Epidemiology and Communicable Disease for Douglas County Health Department, I developed a special interest and a certain amount of expertise in epidemics, how they develop, and effective response.

We all know that we have a heightened awareness when we consider how to limit our contact with other people and groups. We are concerned not only about protecting ourselves, but we want to protect other more vulnerable people, as well. Even if we are not officially quarantined, using good judgement and following public health guidelines can increase our isolation and anxiety.

The United Church of Christ Mental Health Network has offered some excellent suggestions and guidelines. I’d like to share some of these suggestions with you, and hear back about what gives you comfort and solace at this time.

First, as a faith community, we know prayer can be one of the most comforting and empowering things we can do during a crisis. Praying for people that we know are hurting and for the world at large can give us a sense of doing more than we usually feel we can as one person.

Next, we do need to acknowledge our own feelings of anxiety, powerlessness and fear. All of those are natural when we feel so out of control. We are not alone in those feelings and can help others know they are not alone, simply by acknowledging them and sharing how we are working them through.

It can be very comforting to others just to know you are there for them, or you need them to be there for you simply by reaching out by phone, skype, or facetime. I’ve made some calls, thinking I was checking in on someone who is struggling and instead found support coming back for me. In some cases, you might have technical skills to help someone to access these platforms. Or maybe they can help you!  Either way, you’ll be surprised how uplifting a simple phone connection can be right now.

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, call the church office and ask for a list of our most vulnerable members – those who were shut in before we all had to be!  Sara is more than happy to give you a few names to call while you have time.  Or, if you are at home with the kids, how about making some cards or pictures and dropping them in the mail to some of your First Central friends just to let them know you are thinking about them.

If you or someone in your house is suffering with anxiety and other mental health issues right now, please know that you are not alone.   Let us know, we’ll listen and help you find appropriate resources. We’ve compiled an extensive list of those available resources – of all types – and we suggest that you keep them handy during these ever-changing, chaotic time.

In the meantime, take care of one another, get outside and get some fresh air.  Spring is still happening around us so don’t lose site of the new life bursting out across the landscape.  Take a walk, find the bike in the back of the garage, or pull a few weeds from that flower bed. You’ll be amazed how Mother Nature helps calm you and give you fresh focus.

Stay well,