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  • Trey Atwater

Take reasonable precautions, but don’t obsess over the virus

Welcome back Healthy Minds warriors! I have decided to call you all this because I fully understand the challenges presented from being isolated at home. I am writing to you from my makeshift isolation workspace in my house. This time is full of new kinds of stress most of us have never known, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. We can mistakenly make the obstacles we are facing even greater by neglecting our mental well-being in denial of the reality we are now living. If you have followed the last two posts in our segment and have begun to modify your home life to protect your mental health during isolation then you are well on your way to a life of personal care, healthy family culture, and of great value to our community. If you are just now joining us don’t feel lost. You are not behind. The steps to protect your mental health during isolation are designed to be reinvented by each person and modified according to changing needs for a lifetime. Jump right in! This week we face the dreaded temptation to panic by diving into step 2.

Step 2 Explained:

Take reasonable precautions, but don’t obsess over the virus

It is all too natural to be scared of the unknown. We have all faced unknowns in our life and understand the feelings that come with it, but when we see everyone else around us panic buying groceries, gas, medicine, and a ridiculous amount of toilet paper it is hard not to fall into a belief system that we actually need to overstock everything in our home. The truth is, if we didn’t get on the bandwagon, we are probably short on a few staples about now. I know I am. We are rationing milk and eggs for the kids at my house and eating smaller portions is becoming necessary to be able to adhere to the guidance of our local leadership and stay home as much as possible. It is, however, a small price to pay to help safeguard our community.

Praying for the best and buying an extra gallon of milk and dozen eggs is totally acceptable. It may seem like a short-minded thing to consider, but preparing the spirit is just as important to survival in isolation as keeping your pantry stocked. Let’s promise each other we will stay away from buying two or three carts of groceries for ourselves that everyone else needs and focus more on accepting our situation in a more resilient manner. Use only reliable sources of information, such as the CDC or Johns Hopkins University, to inform and make a plan for your health habits. As hard as it is, it’s important not to give into compulsive behaviors. Strength in isolation comes from faith and hope, not our overly full bellies.

Preparing, within reason, is crucial to personal confidence in a crisis situation. Stocking up within reason with a few extra staples isn’t totally out of line as long as it’s not to the detriment of others who may be having issues affording enough to get by in the first place. Personal over-purchasing was and still is a big problem at local grocery stores although some restrictions have been made on certain items to ensure there is enough to go around. These sorts of restrictions tend to be necessary as we prepare for the worst. After talking with several local grocery store managers, the empty shelves are not from a lack of supplies. It derives from people panic buying everything faster than the economy can hire truck drivers. We can’t expect demand for groceries to triple over a week and a grocery store to go from 3 trucks per week to nine in every store all over the country. In retrospect, perhaps we should be preparing for the frustrating, not the worst. We still have enough food. Farming and other staple producing occupations are socially isolated to begin with. They did not stop growing crops because the rest of us city dwellers are working from home.

Expectations set the scene for our hormonal responses and normalize our reactions to new stresses. The practice of rationing staples at home is frustrating, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives us time to reflect on our eating habits we are generally spoiled with as Americans. Although we all probably could be, the point is not that we need to be healthier. The point is that we should have expected reasonable rationing to become a small part of our routine while local venders are setting up for faster pick-up and delivery options. Expecting too much progress and personal gain out of a situation is a dangerous path to lead your emotions down. It will inevitably lead to disappointment and eventually depression if continued. Expecting too little personal obligation from a situation is a recipe for disaster to our personal value and worth eventually leading to depression. I think we can all see where this is going.

Reasonable expectations is the key to taking reasonable precautions and making reasonable decisions to safeguard our community. Easily stated it is mentally, physically, and spiritually essential to pray for the best, prepare for the frustrating, and expect an outcome somewhere in the middle. By understanding this simple principle, we will all get through this together. By adhering to it we will come out the other side a stronger more resilient community. Next week we continue our “10 Easy Ways to Protect Your Mental Health During Isolation” we will dig into Step 3) Find ways to get your body moving, and keep it moving.

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posting by: Trey Atwater. Manger of Operations. Healthy Minds

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