A long time ago my dad told me “life isn’t about what happens to you it’s about how you react to what happens to you”. I never imagined I would be applying that to something like a pandemic whilst working in the medical field, but here I am.
I know we all have unique challenges during this time; some of us are faced with difficult circumstances in our homes, whilst some of us are sick of hearing about it and others are actually physically sick with this virus. Others are working during this time and scared, confused and constantly trying to keep up with their respective government’s ever-changing guidelines. No matter where you fit into this equation, it is hard, but is mostly hard because it is change.
I am an Occupational Therapy Assistant currently working in an inpatient rehab on the third floor of a busy hospital. I have not worked any less during COVID-19, in fact I now work more. My husband is a Nurse in the emergency department at a larger hospital an hour from our home. We have both been affected by COVID-19 deeply, my husband more so, since he is currently working on the front line and tests anywhere from five to twenty patients during a shift – with several positive cases each shift. At first, we were scared and didn’t want to be around our families and we grappled with the idea if my husband and I should live separately temporarily, basically we just didn’t know anything for sure and everything felt uncertain.
Okay, so now here we are, months in, slightly more informed but still uncertain about so much. The point is, we don’t know how much longer this will last. Obviously, we hope it passes in the upcoming months, but either way there is nothing we can do to change COVID-19 (besides wear a mask and use common sense.)
However, the good news is , what we CAN change is our attitudes about COVID-19.
Here are some ways I have personally focused on changing my mindset and focus on the future. Firstly, mindful breathing and positive thinking are very impactful for me and several studies have revealed the significant impact this can have on our physical and mental health. A study published in 2016 by the Journal of Behavior Research and Therapy showed that visualising a positive image will reduce anxiety or worries and actually leads to greater happiness, restfulness and decreased anxiety.
Another tip for therapists that I have seen working with the elderly that I have encountered is providing those they care with with proper skills needed to maintain and protect their health such as educating individuals on using grocery store apps, if they are unable to do this, I strongly urge them to have a friend of family member get their groceries for them to keep from having to get in public and possibly be exposed. I also educate them on the importance of wearing a mask in public and having family members wear masks around them. Most importantly, remaining positive about the future has seemed to be most beneficial when educating my patients.
This situation is not ideal in any way, form or fashion but this too shall pass, and I strongly urge you to change your way of thinking and try to be thankful for what we do have. Research positive thinking related to physical health benefits, practice positive self-talk and positive talk with others around you.
Author: Kastley Gentry
Bio: My name is Kastley Gentry.
I am currently working towards my Masters of Occupational Therapy degree at the University of Texas in Tyler Tx.
I have worked as a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant since December of 2016.
Linkedin.com. 2020. 5 Scientific Studies That Prove The Power Of Positive Thinking. [online] Available at: <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-scientific-studies-prove-power-positive-thinking-mark-guidi> [Accessed 12 July 2020].
KnowKPOP. 2020. If You Want To Change Yourself, Should You Change Your Attitude First Or Change Your Behavior First?. [online] Available at: <https://www.knowkpop.com/if-you-want-to-change-yourself-should-you-change your-attitude-first-or-change-your-behavior-first/> [Accessed 12 July 2020].