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Local Psychiatry Specialist provides tips on how to cope, relieve stress during COVID-19

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There's always the fear of the unknown and that's what COVID-19 is spreading, fear.

But at Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center they are helping people cope with stress and anxiety during this time.

Anxiety is when you have excessive thoughts of fear and worry. The Coronavirus pandemic is generating those thoughts for many because it's something beyond our control. There are things you can do to fight the sense of powerlessness, the main thing is to maintain your sense of "normal."

"It's very important to try to stick to a routine and to a normal schedule as much as possible. Consistency and structure is very calming. Make sure you have enough sleep, you eat with your family at a regular time. Try to exercise if the weather is nice you don't have to be in a crowd, you can take a walk in your neighborhood or just sit on the back porch and talk with each other. Practice mindfulness, meditate, watch your favorite show, cook together and just try to make the best of the circumstances," Psychiatry Specialist and Medical Director, Dr. Alina D. Vrinceanu-Hamm, M.D. said.

The current circumstances are fueling a lot of worry locally, even without any confirmed cases in our region right now,

"There are a lot of patients who tend to worry about things in general more than the normal population. That's called generalizing anxiety disorder. So things that other people are able to brush off people who suffer from anxiety continue to dwell on, a lot of our patients feel more anxious than usual," she explained.

Technology is being harnessed to help patients here, by tapping-in to telehealth capabilities to minimize in-person interactions.

"Every patient will receive either a phone call or a text message with instructions on how to install an app called zoom on their phone so the patient so the patient can access that app from their home. We will be here from our computers and we can do a regular appointment and i think more offices will do that if physical contact is not required, and for us it isn't required," Dr. Vrinceanu-Hamm said.

Other coping recommendations include, helping the most vulnerable, like running errands for the elderly. Reduce personal worry by making sure you have what you need, and it's a good idea to reduce the time spent engaging on social media, and any other factor that could trigger stress and anxiety. Remember this situation will pass.

"Keep in mind this is only temporary this will go away and be a memory," she said.

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