Maintaining mental health through the pandemic: Summit Leadership counselor gives advice for healthy responses


TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — News Channel 11’s Josh Smith spoke to a licensed counselor with Summit Leadership Saturday to discuss positive ways to respond to natural worries and fears throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle King compared the different perceptions in regard to the pandemic to water. Some might be experiencing a sense of standstill, while others are having to endure a storm.

“We’re all in the same boat, but we’re on different waters,” King said. “For some, this has been a sprinkle; it’s been a time of slowing down the pace; it’s been a time of reuniting with families and pushing the reset button. So, for them, it’s almost been welcomed.

“For some, it’s been stormy waters — waters that are fearful and worrisome. They can navigate them, but there’s a lot of fear in those waters, but then for some it’s been a hurricane. The boards are ripped off; the roof is pulled off. They’re experiencing a deep darkness and even death.”

King offered advice for those experiencing the still waters and advised them to understand those who might be toughing out a storm.

“I think we’ve got to be in the boat together and have compassion for those who are in the stormy seas, who are in the rougher waters and listen to them and acknowledge the fear and anxiety,” King said. “Everybody is experiencing this in different ways, and so to be able to hear their stories and respect it and to respect those emotions is really important.”

It’s important to acknowledge that COVID-19 related anxiety, and generalized anxiety, exists, according to King.

“Fear has a target,” King said. “We can be legitimately afraid of contracting COVID-19. Anxiety is more of a generalized unease and just a real need for security that cannot be guaranteed. Those people are having very anxious thoughts with both fear and anxiety.”

King recommended routine and being in-tune with those around you, be it family or friends, and to avoid comparing the way another might respond to the pandemic with how you respond. She also recommended an outlet such as journaling or art to trigger the mind to find things to enjoy.

Josh Smith’s complete interview with King can be watched below, along with a list of resources for those who might be struggling.

Click here for more coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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