Paying Attention to Mental Health During Social Isolation

Paying Attention to Mental Health During Social Isolation
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The COVID-19 pandemic has surged to unprecedented levels. Since last week’s column, many schools, workplaces, and public gatherings have been placed on hold.

For familial amyloid polyneuropathy patients and anyone who suffers from peripheral neuropathy, this stressful time may present an opportunity to maintain positive mental health and shift focus toward gratitude.

As social distancing has shifted from a suggestion to a mandate, patients may substitute isolation for solitude. Following are ways in which neuropathy patients can care for their mental well-being during this time of crisis.

The caregiver’s role during social distancing and quarantine

Caregivers face an interesting situation regarding the care of their patients during the outbreak of an illness as contagious as COVID-19. Family members may be the only viable option during a period of social distancing. For patients with hired caregivers, immediate family members may need to increase their roles as caregivers. These family members must still maintain safe physical distance and ensure they are not showing symptoms of a common cold.

My father-in-law spends most of the time keeping my mother-in-law company at home during the quarantine. When my father-in-law is not at work (his industry is deemed mandatory), my mother-in-law spends time at home in complete solitude or in front of the television.

Technology’s role in keeping us connected with loved ones

The times we live in also present us opportunities to connect through technology. Our friends and family are only a phone call, text message, online chat, or Skype call away. This time of social distancing does not need to be one of complete isolation. Having a support group that is easy to reach may help patients battle feelings of anxiety and worry.

Practicing gratitude

As many parts of everyday life are now on hiatus, this quarantine period presents an opportunity for patients to be grateful for things that once may have been taken for granted. We must remember to be thankful for things such as food, shelter, family, and friends during this time. Practicing gratitude may help shift perspectives away from worry and anxiety.

Maintaining healthy eating habits

It may be easy to gorge on junk food, sweets, and salty snacks when confined to the inside of the home. Still, neuropathy patients need to consider their physical health when working toward maintaining good mental health. Patients must be sure to practice healthy eating habits during this time, especially those taking medications that may potentially affect the immune system. Patients should look to maintain a diet consisting of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Other ways to maintain good mental health

Limiting exposure to news coverage and social media can help patients curb the potential for anxiety during a crisis. Instead, patients can spend time reading, watching shows they enjoy, listening to music, or following along with an audiobook. Patients who live with their family may even consider spending time playing board games with family members at a safe distance. Maintaining the right frame of mind may help patients mitigate the risk of anxiety during stressful and uncertain times.

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Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

Ezekiel is caregiver to his mother-in-law, who has familial amyloid polyneuropathy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic and organizational communications from Temple University and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When not writing, he’s skateboarding or hanging out with his wife, Maryann.
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Ezekiel is caregiver to his mother-in-law, who has familial amyloid polyneuropathy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic and organizational communications from Temple University and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When not writing, he’s skateboarding or hanging out with his wife, Maryann.
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