Dr. P Vicky skiing

Dr. Phil Petersen and wife Vicky Petersen strive to maintain their mental and emotional health by enjoying the beauty Idaho winters have to offer on the ski slope.

This last year has been stressful. We have had a pandemic. We have had a very stormy and even violent political period. We have had shortages of various commodities. We have had a period of dishonest and hurtful social media posting. Some of us have lost our income and are in danger of losing more. We have lost people. We have cancelled plans or had them cancelled for us. We have been stressed, and most of us have had at least some degree of anxiety and depression. We have been more isolated and have had fewer outlets for maintaining our mental health. We have all been affected to some degree.

It is easy in this situation to lose track of the things we need to do to stay mentally healthy. It is easy to eat too much, drink too much and exercise too little. We can get trapped into a cycle of compulsively watching the news or consuming negative social media. It is easy to let things go that would make us feel better, such as our hobbies and reaching out to friends and family.

This is a time to not dwell on negative things we have no control over. It is a time to divide what we can control from what we can’t. There are things we can do to try to stay healthy and minimize anxiety. First, we need to do the things required to keep from getting infected. But we also need to stay generally healthy, mentally as well as physically. Eat a healthy diet. Get outside every day for a bit of fresh air and a walk. Read that book we have wanted to read. Call Mom, brother, sister, or a friend. Take a vacation from the news and social media. Get back into that hobby. Make some plans for when this is over and the world is a little saner.

There is hope. Covid cases have been gradually declining in our county for the past few weeks. We actually know now how to avoid getting infected. It looks like political strife may have peaked with recent events. The Covid vaccine is gradually being distributed and administered. (Here in Clearwater County, close to 1200 people have been immunized, including a little over 200 who have received both doses.) For the first time in a while, there is potential light at the end of the tunnel on a number of fronts. It looks like this summer will be significantly better than last.

We have made it this far. It looks like the finish line may be in sight, even if not in the immediate future. Let’s make sure that we each try to stay healthy through the last leg of this last tumultuous year.

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