Local psychologist offers advice on how to handle pandemic-related stress

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 9:21 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The pandemic is certainly testing our mental strength. A recent study shows more than half of Americans are struggling with stress created by the virus.

Health insurance provider Cigna published a report staying more than 60% of Americans have their resilience at risk, which can have long-lasting effects on people and their businesses.

“Resiliency is our ability to get through bad things," said Dr. Gabriel Cline. "I think we can all agree that 2020 has not been the best of things to get through.”

Dr. Cline said the therapists on staff at Psych Associates in Springfield are overwhelmed with clients. He said those clients are overwhelmed themselves, facing more chronic stress than ever before.

“They’re really just wanting to have some sort of light at the end of the tunnel on when this is going to end and that doesn’t exist," he said.

He said stress over the course of many months has caused strain on relationships and led some people to fall back into substance use. Cline said the winter months could make things worse.  

“Some people have been out of work and so the finances are at a pinch, too. Looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas and the added expenses of all these, it adds even more stress and pressure on the family," he said.

According to Cigna, only 37% of full-time workers have high resiliency which can lead to poor job performance and more prevalent mental health challenges like depression and anxiety.

Dr. Cline said children are resilient, but they tend to carry the same weight of those around them.

“If we can project to our kids that things are going to be okay, then our kids are going to do better, but it’s hard for us to project that because a lot of us don’t fully understand what’s going on," he said.

Cigna states children with lower resiliency tend to have lower self-esteem and struggle in school.

Cline said helping children find the good in any situation can help them feel in control, even in scenarios when no one knows what’s next. He said there are five seemingly simple steps that can make a big difference for everyone.

“Proper sleep, proper diet, proper exercise, doing things you like doing, some sort of hobby or interest and being around people that love you," he said.

He said having those things in place build the basis of resiliency, of bouncing back when things are bad.

“It’s not going to keep going on forever. We can do this better and we can teach each other how to communicate and how to love and be who we really are. That’s what this opportunity is," Cline said.

Dr. Cline says anyone facing stress should try to find a therapist before hitting a breaking point. He said teleheath options are available at most clinics for virtual visits, but many providers are still seeing patients in person as well. Cline said, in talking to other therapists, 92% of clients are requesting to see their counselor in person, most in need of face-to-face interaction.

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