We’ve all just experienced some of the most distressing and disturbing nine months we’ve ever lived, and in spite of good news about vaccines, there is no tangible end in sight. …
We’ve all just experienced some of the most distressing and disturbing nine months we’ve ever lived, and in spite of good news about vaccines, there is no tangible end in sight. It’s no surprise that many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue.
I am a mental health nurse serving on the front lines as a crisis worker. As such, I have access to coping strategies and resources to help face the hopefully final but potentially hardest part of this shared experience. The holidays are coming, and with them, scientists warn, the worst leg of this pandemic.
While we can’t change the reality we find ourselves in, experts remind us that we can change our relationship to it. According to author, Buddhist and meditation teacher Jack Kornfield, “Decades of neuroscience studies show the power of mindfulness to relieve stress, awaken our positive capacities and bring balance to our lives.” If you are experiencing anxiety or depression (some symptoms are irritability, sadness, disrupted eating and sleeping patterns) you might find some relief by practicing the following mindfulness techniques.
Exercise 1: Release tension in your body by tightening then relaxing each muscle group, starting at your forehead and working your way to your toes. To finish, inhale deeply through your nose to the count of three, hold for three, then breathe out through the nose or mouth to the count of five. Repeat three times.
Exercise 2: Notice the stories you are telling yourself. Humans have 6,000 to 20,000 thoughts a day, and the majority tend to be negative. To combat this, try the following: Sit in a comfortable seat and take a deep, relaxing breath; then tune into your senses. Imagine one pleasant thing you have tasted, two things you have smelled, three things you have felt, four things you have heard and five things you can see. You have just taken a break from your mind.
The following is an abbreviated list of local mental health resources. There are many more.
You can reach the Mobile Mental Health Team at 844/277-4820. A trained professional will assist you and provide you with appropriate resources.
If you are concerned about over-using drugs or alcohol, contact Alcoholics Anonymous at www.ulsterdistricts.aahmbny.org or alternatively, Samadhi at www/samadhiny.org. If you are affected by someone else’s drinking, contact Al Anon at www.al-anon-ulster-sullivan-ny.org. (See more resources here.)
If you or a neighbor are in need of holiday support, contact People’s Place in Kingston and online: The PandemicofLove.com. If you’re experiencing food insecurity, there are well-stocked free food fridges in Kingston at 122 Clinton Ave. and 14 Van Buren St., and many food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Ulster county. Find one near you at www.ulstercountyny.gov/aging/food-pantries. (For a list of food pantries in Sullivan County in New York and Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania, visit www.riverreporter.com/resources) Finally, the City of Kingston’s COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program is now open and can be accessed through RUPCO.
Jo Shuman has been a holistic nurse for 28 years and has worked with folks in India, Africa, alcohol and drug treatment programs, incarcerated men and children in schools. She is a wife, mother and grandmother of seven. She is currently a local volunteer for two Restorative Justice projects and works for a mental health crisis team. She believes that if everyone in the world meditated daily, war would disappear from the planet.
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