Staying mentally healthy while dealing with effects of the pandemic


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) –  Being stuck in the house can be detrimental to mental health, and experts say many people have been experiencing anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For people that have had anxiety over the course of their life, this tends to amp up anxiety when you have this much uncertainty,” Dr. Jack O’Donnell, a psychologist, said.

O’Donnell, who is now practicing via tele-therapy, says he’s had more patients reach out to him. He says the important thing is to not focus on things that are out of your control.

“We have to add elements of control. What would be the most purposeful or meaningful or enjoyable for us to do each day with our spouse, certainly with our kids?” he said.

At Lake Hefner, people shared what they do to stay mentally and physically healthy while still maintaining a safe distance. 

Daniel Nicholson is out kite surfing.

“It’s really about the only time I can stop thinking about the virus. It’s always in the back of your mind, but when you’re out in the middle of the lake kiting, it kind of disappears,” Nicholson said.

“We try to get out every day with the dogs and move them about three to four miles a day,” Jeff Hale, who was also at Lake Hefner, said.

If you’re stuck in the house, O’Donnell says you can find ways to reconnect with those you live with, like your spouse and children.

If you live alone, you can talk to friends and family through technology.

O’Donnell says rather than simply looking for distractions, be intentional about what you set your mind to.

“Distraction is trying to get away from the anxiety or the feelings of fear. When we’re intentional, we’re doing things that are purposeful or meaningful or enjoyable for us,” he said.

O’Donnell also says it’s a good time for self-development and reflection. See what negative things can be cleared from your life, but don’t ruminate on the same things in an unhealthy cycle.

“This can be a rich time of reflection, a time to reflect and think about important things in one’s life,” he said.

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