BOISE, Idaho — The last four months have been unlike any other. Job insecurity, social isolation, and concerns over catching COVID-19, are leading to an increase in stress and anxiety among many Americans.
Lockdowns may be lifted and restaurants reopened, but without any real progress toward controlling COVID-19, many people are feeling anxious around others.
"We are social creatures by nature," Dr. Jim Polo said. "I kind of wish we had not called it 'social distancing' and had just called it 'physical distancing.'"
That's because while it's important to physically keep six feet or more from others, personal connection remains key.
"Connection is very critically important. Use your telephones, use your mobile platforms, your social websites to connect to other people even though you can't necessarily be physically close to them," Dr. Polo said.
For those who have to return to work, without the option of staying home, Dr. Polo recommends focusing on factors within your control.
"We're recommending everyone wear masks; So you can't control that's the recommendation, but what you can control is what kind of a mask you want to wear! Make it fun," Dr. Polo suggested. "Get one that's your favorite football team or get one that's a color you like. Focus on the things you do control."
Above all else, Dr. Polo reminds us we're all experiencing the same thing right now, and these feelings of stress and uncertainty are normal.
"It's important to talk about your feelings, but don't get lost in them," Dr. Polo recommends. "So it's important to recognize everybody is going through the same stress right now, give support to each other, but then get back to focusing on things that are productive that we need to do in the here and now."