SOCIAL DISTANCING: How to ease your mind during the coronavirus pandemic

By Stacia Strong
Posted: Tue 7:32 AM, Mar 24, 2020 | Updated: Tue 9:01 AM, Mar 24, 2020
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PITT COUNTY, NC (WITN) – Millions of Americans are practicing social distancing and isolating themselves as much as possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. But how does isolation affect us?

Keith Hamm is a social worker for Integrated Family Services who says it’s important for those at home to not underestimate how staying at home and away from our friends, family and even co-workers can affect you mentally and emotionally.

“It’s very comforting to us to have a routine and all of the sudden that’s interrupted and then whatever social interaction you normally have at work, or for senior citizens, going to the senior center or whatever it is all of the sudden those things come to an end and we do begin to feel isolated and that can bring up all types of emotions,” said Hamm.

Hamm says it’s important to take care of yourself and to know that this social isolation can impact your mood.

“Anytime that we are isolated from social interaction it is going to affect our mood, it’s going to affect our overall thinking,” said Hamm.

Being aware of what you feel is important to ensuring you are not becoming depressed or getting anxious. But how do you cope with those feelings of sadness, fear, and anxiety? Hamm says find ways to stay connected even from a distance.

Hamm says, “Make sure you are staying connected with others in the best way possible whether that’s phone interaction or social media interaction.”

Outside of phone calls and social media, experts say to exercise, read a book or even pick up a new hobby.

“Another way to combat this social isolation is to practice some strategies at home of things that bring you a little bit of peace, a little bit of joy, or a little bit of hope,” said Hamm.

Wanting to bring that feeling of hope and some sense of normalcy is where New Bern yoga studio, A Hopeful Balance is trying to come in.

The small business says they’ve had to drastically cut back on in-person classes and are now trying to add more online classes in.

Allyson Pack a co-owner of the studio says, “Now we’re streaming almost all of them live and even if it’s messy and kids and dogs, they can still take that time out of their day to first of feel like they are a part of something and still feel like they are connected to familiar voices and faces and get that little plug into their home life.”

The experienced yoga instructors and co-owners of the studio, Hope Satuffer and Allyson Pack say yoga has been proven to help calm anxieties.

“When someone is upset they always say to take three big long breaths and it helps center and calm you. yoga is essentially 30 to sometimes 60 minutes of that, it’s just a very calming practice and it connects you with your body,” said Stauffer.

For the two business partners being able to offer these classes to their clients at home allows them to help while still keeping everyone’s health and safety in mind.

“It’s just all about you making space in your body, your heart, and even in your mind it’s just space and that’s all that matters,” said Pack.

Cooking and baking are other outlets for folks at home. Gwendy Yiznitsky is owner of Gwendy’s Goodies in Ayden and for her cooking whether alone or with her children has been a creative outlet that she believes everyone should try.

“When I start getting into a recipe it puts you in another world you’re in a process and it’s more relaxing and you just enjoy the process and it’s kind of a little bit of an escape almost,” said Yiznitsky.

For Gwendy cooking as a family was also a way to get her children using their minds without them even realizing it, whether it was measuring out the ingredients and counting, or getting creative with toppings.

Yiznitsky says, “Cooking is creative, you know there is the recipe but there is always the element of what you with the recipe, I think there is always fun and enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment when you create something together.”

As we continue with social distance, Social worker Keith Hamm urges people to be alert to their feelings and the feelings of those in their house.

“Be aware of not only how you are feeling mentally but as well as family members that you are in the house with,” said Hamm.

Hamm also suggested reaching out to Integrated Family services if you need help. ​”We will get through this together,” said Hamm.

For more information, click here.​

Gwendy’s Goodies has also provided a recipe for ‘Mall Pretzels’

Mall Pretzels

  1. Mix well in a medium size bowl and let rest until surface starts to foam:
    1 ½ C. warm water
    1 packet yeast
    2 T. brown sugar
    1 t. salt
  2. Gently stir in with a spoon:
    4 C. all purpose flour
  3. Knead dough until smooth and elastic on a lightly floured surface.
  4. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
  5. Roll each piece out into a long rope about 30-36 inches long and then shape into a pretzel.
  6. Dip pretzels in:​
    2 C. warm water
    2 T. baking soda
  7. Let pretzels sit and rise for about 10 minutes.
  8. Place dipped pretzels onto a well greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven about 12 minutes.
  9. Brush hot pretzels with real butter and sprinkle with kosher salt or try garlic and Parmesan cheese, toasted sesame seeds, or cinnamon.
  10. Enjoy!
Posted in Community, Mental Health, Services