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Anxiety and worry can be handled

Clowning, counseling serious business

 

By Dennis Minich


When Scott Maid is not out clowning around, he has a day job: a very serious day job, working as a clinical psychologist.

Through school, an internship and more than 14 years in practice, Maid admits the current concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak is something totally new.

“We never covered COVID-19 or anything like it in grad school. Most of us have never dreamed of living in a situation like this,” Maid said.

Although the situation is unusual, many of the concerns about the outbreak are not unique.

“What it comes down to is we are dealing with the unknown and no one likes not having control. When you are facing the unknown, you look for something you can control. That’s where you get things like people buying lots of toilet paper. It’s a small thing, but it gives you a sense of control for a couple of weeks,” he said.

“Inaccurate information leads to panic. Little things give us a sense of control.”

Maid said one of the things leading to the anxiety is how things are labeled.


“Social distancing is probably not a good term. It would be better if we called it physical distancing, because we still need to be social,” Maid said. “We don’t want to isolate ourselves, but the term social distancing sounds like that. With today’s technology, we can still be social. We can have virtual lunch meetings, phone calls and group meetings. Technology can help keep us social, but we need to keep our physical distance.”

Maid said there are some keys to coping with the current quarantines and distancing rules.

“It is important to establish a regular and healthy routine. Normal routines have changed. You don’t have to get up at a certain time to go to school or for work and the route to anxiety is unknowns and we are dealing with a lot of unknowns” he said.

He added there are steps people can take to make a healthy routine.

“The big three for depression are: sleep, diet and exercises. Make these three things a top priority in your regular routine. Get regular sleep: eight to nine hours, have a regular bedtime and awake time. Get back into that routine.

“For your diet, make a conscious effort to eat healthy food. Prepare the proper nutrients to battle depression and anxiety. Reduce caffeine and sugar, avoid alcohol, nicotine and non-prescribed drugs. Eat three balanced meals, starting with breakfast.

“Exercise. Some people may be limited, so check with your physician, but it is generally recommended to exercise up to 30 minutes daily. Walk, take your dog for a walk, put on some music and dance, cycle. Exercise releases endorphins and that makes us feel better,” Maid explained.

He said many people find it hard to get going while battling depression or anxiety, but the key is to get started.

“I compare it to a business loan to get a business started. Maybe you need to borrow energy to get going. Once you get some activity going, the endorphins kick in and it is easier to work,” Maid said. “Just consider it that you are borrowing the energy to get started.”

He noted if you can’t do 30 minutes, anything can help.

Maid said, “Even if you are just active for five or 10 minutes. We are
looking for big things to change our lives, but a lot of times it’s the little
things we can do that add up. Maybe it’s yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, reading books or starting a hobby.”

So much of the cure can be attitude, he said.

“Have positive self-thoughts, don’t think negative traits. It is easy to look at
the negatives, but try to replace them with positives. Instead of saying ‘I have to go,’ think ‘I get to go.’” Spend more time with the family, focus on yourself and practice the big three – sleep, diet and exercise,” he said.

He said misinformation and a lack of understanding is contributing to the current anxiety people feel.

“Maybe instead of a quarantine, they should have shut down Facebook for two weeks. If you are going to read things on the Internet, look for knowledgeable and reputable sites. There are a lot of websites with information that is not accurate and that’s what leads to anxiety and stress,” he said.

“When studying, seek reputable sources not just some guy blogging. When we don’t know, we panic. What we were reading was what led to the anxiety and panic.”

Maid said it is important to take both a long and short view of the situation.

“We all want to get to the outcome, but in this case the process is more important than worrying about the result. Focus on the prize, but you can’t neglect what it takes to get there. The little battles are won at the here and now.

“It is all really common sense, nothing really big. The virus can’t travel, only people can transport it. Nobody likes the quarantine and nobody likes having things taken away, but getting the virus beaten is the goal,” Maid said.

He concluded that depression is a disease and anyone having trouble coping should see a medical professional.

 

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