Chandler counselor offers mental health tips amid coronavirus outbreak

A Chandler counselor recommends tips for mental wellness during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
A Chandler counselor recommends tips for mental wellness during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

A Chandler counselor recommends tips for mental wellness during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

While many Chandler residents are taking precautions in the interest of their physical health in this time of social distancing and self-quarantining, Kavita Hatten, a psychotherapist and licensed professional counselor, said now is not the time to overlook one’s mental health.

“Everything has been changing so quickly, and it is all very uncertain,” Hatten said. “I think it’s normal to be anxious, even for people not prone to anxiety. People are feeling a sense of panic that’s been going around.”

Hatten, who has a practice at 2705 S. Alma School Road, Ste. 2, Chandler, said it is important for people not to panic and to breathe through their anxiety.

“When we panic, what ends up happening is our prefrontal cortex almost shuts down,” Hatten said. “And the emotional part of the brain takes over. That’s where we go to fight, flight or freeze. So that’s what you’ve been seeing in the past several weeks. [People] are in the panic state where they are not thinking [things] through rationally. I think with the panic going around, it's become a viral panic.”

Hatten encourages individuals at this time to establish simple routines: to wake up at the same time every day, to eat healthy foods, to drink water and to get exercise when possible.

“If we stay mindful of what we are thinking and feeling—that’s really important,” Hatten said. “That way, we can free up time to do other things and not to just worry all day.”

Gov. Doug Ducey announced an executive order March 19 prohibiting dine-in options in restaurants and closing gyms, bars and movie theaters in Arizona counties that have COVID-19 cases. Since then, many Arizonans have pivoted to working from home, and many more still are facing job insecurity.

Hatten said she encourages people to practice mindfulness and look for ways they can empower themselves.

“I think it is important to look at the positive things that are happening and the people that are making a difference,” Hatten said, "and for people to take this as an opportunity to learn something new or do something they may not have done before.”

Hatten also recommends:

  • Limiting alcohol, caffeine and sugar;

  • Spending time with pets;

  • Crafting;

  • Journaling;

  • Reaching out to your support network or finding a support network online in Facebook groups, like "Corona Community Support of the Valley" or "The Kindness Pandemic";

  • Getting proper sleep;

  • Limiting time on social media/media;

  • Being mindful of breathing; and

  • Using mindfulness apps, like Calm or Headspace.

“We all have internal resources. Sometimes, we forget that in a time where we are under stress,” Hatten said. “I want people to reflect on a time where they went through a difficult time and think back to it: How did you change your mindset during that time? What did you do to help yourself? We have to trust ourselves that we are going to get through this.”