Coping with social distancing and loss during pandemic: ‘Speak to someone who is trained to listen’

Maintaining mental health just as important as physical during coronavirus pandemic

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Anything out of the ordinary can be an anxiety trigger. When a loved one is sick, knowing you can’t visit them can create guilt.

Dr. Frank Campbell, executive director emeritus with the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center, says it can be hard to relate to confinement.

"When you have a sense that someone else may be in trouble and you can’t really respond, it squelches our natural desire to help others,” Dr. Campbell said.

Mental health experts say self-care should be on your to-do list every day. Dr. Campbell says to ask yourself, 'What is it that I need to do for me?'

“That list should include developing a good sleep pattern, eating a balanced diet, creating a daily structured routine, and reaching out to your support system. Do things that feel normal. It can help us cope with something different that we’re not used to,” Dr. Campbell said.

“Productive and creative life is the fourth leg, if you will, of a four-legged stool of self-care,” he said. “We want that stool to be very well balanced so we can sit on it firmly. Productive and creative life are often things people put aside during a crisis.”

Losing a loved one during this pandemic is another challenge nobody wants to face. Most of us instinctively turn to those we’re close to in order to grieve, but right now, we can’t. Dr. Campbell says it’s okay to do things differently, like writing an email or letter to family, calling or video chatting with someone, or making a scrapbook about the person who died.

“When someone dies suddenly and traumatically, it creates a great sense of confusion,” he said. "It doesn’t fit with our expectations. Right now we have people dying through illness, of all ages. We have people dying through violence, of all ages. So we’ve got these two nagging problems going on with us right now.”

Experts say open lines of communication are important. Talking to a trained ear is the number one choice when you’re battling anxiety or stress for any reason.

Mental health experts say "talking quite often is so much better when you have a person who know how to listen." Call the 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 225-924-3900.
Mental health experts say "talking quite often is so much better when you have a person who know how to listen." Call the 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 225-924-3900. (Source: WAFB)

“Call a crisis line,” Dr. Campbell said. “Speak to someone who is trained to listen, someone who knows exactly how to hear and tune into the pain and suffering. When it’s someone close to us, we want to solve that problem and we want to give advice and at that time, advice is not that helpful.”

Dr. Campbell says everyone will react to a crisis differently. Teens, for instance, might struggle to create a new environment if they’re used to being around people.

“This is the time for teens and adults to communicate with each other,” he said. “Find some common language we can all agree on.”

Dr. Campbell says don’t just sit and wait for help to come; be the help.

If someone you know needs help, call the 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 225-924-3900.

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