With the stay-at-home order currently in effect in Leavenworth County, residents are adjusting to a new normal consisting of social distancing, quarantining and isolation.
These practices, while necessary to flatten the curve of the coronavirus, can cause psychological issues, said Dr. Jason Malousek, psychologist and clinic and training director of The Guidance Center.
“There has been some research on this with previous quarantines, but there is a sense of loss, losing their freedom, sometimes people lose their jobs or they have to work from home,” Malousek said. “There’s boredom and there’s isolation and these things together over a period of time just lead to higher rates of acute stress disorder, which is a trauma response because quarantining is not a typical human experience. …You’re used to that interpersonal contact.”
This experience can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, irritability, sleeping problems, concentration issues and a lack of motivation and these effects can be more if there is a history of anxiety or depression, Malousek said.
“But this is kind of a general feeling that a lot of people get when they’re forced to isolate,” Malousek said. “There are the added stressors with this that come with finances, wondering how you’re going to pay your bills, the fear of infection. …Then just feeling that we’re getting an inadequate amount of information.”
Information can be useful, Malousek said, but it is important that it is obtained from the right sources.
“Be informed in moderation, but you should seek it out through the professionals,” Malousek said.
In this case, Malousek suggests the medical professionals including the state information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the federal information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the international information from the World Health Organization.
“If you utilize information from all those sources, you’re getting accurate, timely information,” Malousek said.
There are other ways to combat the effects, he continued, including keeping a regular schedule, taking regular breaks if working from home and regularly participating in pleasurable activities that don’t have any connection to the pandemic.
“You got to take a break from this stuff. It’ll wear you out,” Malousek said. “Be as active as possible while still obeying the distancing suggestion.
“Connect with people, call people, use technology for good like FaceTime and reaching out to family and friends,” he said. “Have fun. Shut off the news and watch something that doesn’t have any pandemic-related material.”
There are groups that are practicing these suggestions regularly. Check group Facebook pages and websites for more information.
The Guidance Center is open for telehealth services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 913-682-5118. After hours, call 888-260-9634.
For more information, visit www.theguidance-ctr.org