Our Agent, Kate Dawson, was invited to write a guest column for the Murrysville-Export Rotary Club weekly newsletter, The Gasser.

Rotary International is a service organization, and the Murrysville-Export chapter is a terrific group of individuals who work tirelessly for various causes to make both the world and our local community a better place. I have seen their work firsthand, as my brother served as President of this chapter, and has been an active member for over a decade.

The subject of my article focused on mental heath amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Rotary International website states, “Rotary unites more than a million people. Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

I urge you to use this time to be that change: be the helping hand, support each other, and come out of this a stronger example of your profession. Echo the Rotarian’s motto: Service Above Self.

The guest column is shown below:

It’s a long accepted fact that people resist change.  It’s uncomfortable, you feel a loss of control, and the uncertainty brings much stress and anxiety.  During this unprecedented time the worry is mounting, and as time goes on — with no end to this “new normal”, the long-term effects are setting in.  Even for those who have a generally sunny outlook, or who practice gratitude, the angst of a seemingly endless crisis is settling in on the public like a heavy weight.

Particularly with the realization that this “new normal” may continue on much longer than originally suggested or anticipated, it’s important that we give some thought to our mental health, and do what we can to get through this.

What you can do to help keep the worry at bay:

– Check on each other.  Now is an ideal time to reach out to your support networks.  Strengthen relationships.  Check on your friends.  Connect with your family.  When stress mounts it often causes people to pull back from interacting.

Now is an ideal time to catch up with a friend and use this time to reconnect old friendships.  For those who struggle with seasonal depression, we were just moving out of the time of year that hits people hardest, yet now we are starting another thirty days that to some feels like crippling isolation.  Humans generally need community to be happy.  Find ways around the limitations by scheduling FaceTime calls and Zoom chats.  

– Take some time to work on yourself.  Embark on a hobby that you have wanted to explore.  Read the stack of books that has been collecting dust on your shelf.  Self-care is paramount.  Many yoga studios are offering classes on Facebook Live, and there are hundreds of courses you can take on websites such as skillshare.com.

– Support your local businesses.  Purchase curbside pickup from small businesses.  Go online and write reviews and recommendations for your hair salon, local stores in town, your dentist, and other small businesses.  

– Tidy up your home and donate what you can.  Spring cleaning is cathartic.  Go through your closets and set aside clothing to donate.  Take your kitchen cabinets apart and donate the items stashed in the back.  Welcome Home Shelter is located in downtown Greensburg, and each month they move their residents into apartments.  They depend on donations to move individuals successfully.  

 – Find a way to focus on happiness.  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” is a podcast where each episode explores personality frameworks, good habits, human nature, and shares tips and tricks to make your life happier.  Each thought-provoking episode shares practical advice about happiness and how to make your life better.  It has been scientifically proven that you can train your brain – so take this time to work on a happier mindset to combat the angst.  

This is a difficult time for all of us, and it’s important to recognize that everyone is struggling.  Reach out to be the helping hand and do what you can.  We are all in this together.  This will pass, but do you want to look back on that time knowing you watched endless hours of Netflix, or finally tried baking your grandma’s favorite recipes, rekindled friendships, and learned hand-lettering?   What will our world look like when this is all over?  We don’t know this yet, so it’s up to us to control the aspects that we can.  

Stay safe.  Stay well.