Experts: Don’t forget your mental health in a stay-at-home environment

Experts: Don’t forget your mental health in a stay-at-home environment

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been a week since Gov. David Ige’s order for everyone to stay at home and work from home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Psychologists said they’re seeing differing reactions, but it’s something that has affected those who’ve lost work because of the closing of virtually everything except for essential services.

“I was a substitute teacher for the DOE and so obviously a lot of the jobs that I had an prearranged have been canceled, so right now I’m just out there working my home-based business,” said Kalihi resident Alison Murata.

While she misses the substitute teaching job, right now she has her own two children to care for.

“Right now they’re home with me and I’ve been able to work with my children,” she said. “We picked up an educational packet from the school and we’ve actually started taking advantage of the free student lunches from a nearby school”

“The whole social distancing thing isn’t even normal, because as human beings we are wired that we want to connect with people, we want to touch people," said Dr. Paul Unkrur, a clinical psychologist in Honolulu.

Unkrur said those who still have jobs are having an easier time of it.

“My clients are telling me that work isn’t as busy, there’s less traffic, there’s less consumerism, and so their pace of life has kind of slowed down,” he said. “They like that.”

But for those who’ve been laid off or are alone, “Obviously their reaction is going to be different because you don’t have the support of a family or a partner or a spouse,” said Unkrur. “It’s going to be very, very difficult.”

Murata said even though schools are closed, there have been ways for her children to connect.

“My daughter’s second-grade teacher -- she’s actually set up Zoom calls for the kids, and so now once a week at nine o’clock, we get on a Zoom call and gets to connect with all of her classmates and her teachers, so I think that’s really wonderful,” said Murata.

Unkrur said such scheduled activities are very important, every day.

“You need to have one or two activities that you do because what’s important to get through this -- there needs to be a sense of purpose or that you’ve accomplished something,” he said.

He also said it’s important to disconnect as well.

“Every day, take an hour, two hours where you turn off social media, turn off the news, that you just enjoy an activity or you enjoy your loved ones.”

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