Apr 9, 2020

Interviewer: We are currently in a state of hyper awareness. It seems like any moment of the day we could get an update about how our life will significantly change.

Dr. Benjamin Chan is a psychiatrist at University of Utah Health. And Dr. Chan, I'm hoping that you can give us say three tools to cope with the stress and the uncertainty and the feeling of anxiousness that a lot of us are feeling right now.

Dr. Chan: So the first one I would say is live in the moment. Too much of our existence we focus on the past, which arguably causes depression, or we're worried about the future, which can cause anxiety. We use this word in mental health called mindfulness, being in the moment, breathe in, breathe out. Whatever is going on right now is all you can really control and all you can really feel. So number one, live in the moment. Don't worry about what happened yesterday. Don't worry about what might happen tomorrow. So be very mindful.

Number two, adopt a new routine, embrace it. How you do things, how you go about your day, how you structure your life is going to be different, and it's okay, because everyone is in the same boat. That's the beautiful, maddening part of all this is we're all in this together and it's impacted so many of us. So my routine today is different, so is all my staff, all the people that work at the hospital, all the people at these different jobs. They all have different routines.

And then the last one is self-care. Take care of yourself. Develop a skill, a hobby, a project. Get your mind off things. Get something accomplished. Read a book. Do that garage project that you've put off. Connect with a long lost roommate, classmate, family member. So take care of yourself in a new, more meaningful way. So those are the three things I would say.

Interviewer: To somebody who's lost their job, doesn't know how they're going to necessarily support their family anymore, doesn't know when things are going to return back to normal, you know, might not even be able to get a job right now, I mean things are really bad. They might hear some of the advice that's out there, be mindful, breathe and think there's no way that's going to help me. What do you say to that person?

Dr. Chan: I would say you have to walk before you run. So if you lose your job, if things are super stressful today, it's not going to get better tomorrow. There is a path there that you need to take to prepare yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, that in a week from now, a month or now when you have that job interview, when you have that critical moment as a husband, father, wife, mother, you will be prepared to run.

So breathing, being mindful, enjoying the moment, going for a walk, reading a book, accomplishing a project around the house that you've ignored or put off for the past two to three years that helps you be a stronger, better person, and it'll prepare you for that next jump, for that next leg in your journey.

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