GOSHEN — Following Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Monday order for Hoosiers to remain in their homes except for essential business and permitted activities, the need for mitigating declines in mental health remains during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order will be in effect from March 25 to April 7.
“What we’re being asked to do is a tricky thing, right, because we’re being asked to stay away from each other,” said Amanda Sensenig, an associate professor of psychology at Goshen College and co-owner of Goshen Brewing Co.
“As humans, we are sort of programmed to want to be social creatures, so that can be potentially problematic when we’re meant to keep away from each other. So that can certainly take a toll on us emotionally, it can wreak havoc on our mental health, potentially, not to mention the fact there are all sorts of unknowns right now and things that are out of our control, and all of that has potential to cause stress and anxiety in us.”
A routine, Sensenig said, was immediately established with her husband and 8-year-old daughter last week.
“That’s also good for mental health. Making fewer decisions, you have some semblance of a routine,” she said. “Routines are comforting for kids, and they’re pretty helpful for adults, even if it’s a different kind of routine than what you’re used to, it’s OK; we’re flexible, adaptable.”
Daytime activities in the Sensenig family routine include playtime, lunch, chores, fresh-air time, activities encouraging creativity and music appreciation, she said.
Providing services in 26 Indiana counties, Bowen Center, the state’s largest community mental health center, according to its site, offered additional strategies for maintaining mental wellness:
• Separate what is in your control from what is not. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Limit your and your family’s exposure to news coverage and social media.
• Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This is different for everyone, and it is important not to compare yourself to others.
• Challenge yourself to stay in the present. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present. Engage in mindfulness activities to help stay grounded when things seem beyond your control.
• Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling anxious or you are struggling with your mental health, it’s OK to reach out to a mental health professional for support.
Walking near the Goshen Dam March 17, Mackenzie Yoder of Goshen shared a mother’s perspective.
“Obviously, with her being out of school, I’m obviously going to be staying with her at home,” Yoder said of her 6-year-old daughter Natalie. “But we’re just trying to keep our hands cleaned and washed, use the daily sanitary ways of living, I guess. I think just trying to stay away from masses of people at this time, you know, just trying to do the right things and stay healthy.
“I fortunately have been able to stay home part time lately, so it really hasn’t impacted us that much more, with her staying home more from school.”
As the public adapts to restrictions and quarantine with music, games, educational activities and more at home, Goshen’s Tim Hochstetler, co-owner/owner of downtown’s Ignition Music Garage, TG Music and Mimsy Toys, said business has “just been totally dead.”
“We’ve seen no sales,” he said. “We wished, we hoped there would be. There’s a couple people that have supported, have made a point to get curbside pickup, and we’re offering some things like that, but we’ve just dropped off a cliff over there.”
Hochstetler noted free delivery of goods from his businesses is available within a 10-mile radius of downtown for purchases over $100. With further travel and work restrictions approaching, Hochstetler offered reminders of Mimsy Toys’ coloring books, puzzles and games, along with TG Music’s gear and physical media from Ignition.
“Now is the time to support these places, because when they close down — if they do what they’re doing in Illinois and things, where it’s just essential travel — everybody’s going to close down for good,” he said. “Then, it’s going to be too late to get to the toy store. It will too late to support these businesses.”
For more information from Bowen Center, including available mental health services, call 800-342-5653.
To contact Hochstetler, call 574-349-3334.