As our lifestyle in the Wood River Valley has changed for the foreseeable future, our community stands together, as always, supporting one another during times of need. While the community is responding appropriately and we strive to keep Blaine County at the peak of its resilience, there are ongoing concerns about social isolation.
At NAMI-Wood River Valley, our primary focus is to provide ongoing support to people experiencing mental distress, and we understand that times of uncertainty can be challenging, particularly when it comes to the development of feelings of anxiety or social isolation. It is important to remember that social distancing does not have to include social isolation. While schools and businesses have closed to create social distancing and prevent the spread of this virus, social isolation does not need to be the result.
There are a variety of techniques that can be used to help prevent feelings of isolation from developing. Just as every individual is unique, the preferred skills for self-regulation will also be unique; therefore, the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better!
Here at NAMI-WRV, we have become accustomed to using the Community Resiliency Model and a variety of skills to help "ground" ourselves when we feel off-balance, allowing for regulation of our central nervous systems. We encourage you to do the same by taking time to get outside and go for a walk, feeling the ground beneath your feet, the warmth of the sun on your skin and each inhalation of fresh air deep down into your chest. Taking the time to enjoy moments such as these can prevent feelings of isolation during uncertain times and help to expand our zones of resilience as we strive to overcome hardships.
A variety of other “help now” skills can be used to help regulate our central nervous systems when we find that we have been knocked out of our resilient zone. Some of these skills may include pushing your hands or back against a wall or noticing the sounds within the space you are in, either inside or outside. This can help bring us back to the present moment and remind us that in this moment we are OK.
Another skill we use is when you call on your own personal “resources.” A resource can be people, places, things, spiritual guidance, hobby or experience that when you think about it sparks joy or calm on the inside. You can recall your resource in your mind while using all your senses to bring it to life--the sights, smells, textures, temperature and sounds from that memory while noticing the pleasant sensations in your body.
Social distancing does not have to include social isolation. Reach out. Call, text or use FaceTime with your loved ones. Times of struggle and uncertainty shouldn’t lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. If you are struggling, or a loved one is, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. A list of available resources in Blaine County can be found at nami-wrv.org/5Balliance/. Further, NAMI has provided a list of helpful resources during these times of uncertainty that can also be found on our website at nami-wrv.org/nami-helpline-covid-19-coronavirus-information-and-resources/.
The staff at NAMI-WRV remains committed to supporting our community through these uncertain times. While we are unable to provide in-person support groups, we remain available to support our community via phone, text or email. Staff can be contacted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Christina Cernansky at 208-481-0686 or Brittany Shipley at 208-720-4004.
Christina Cernansky is executive director of the Wood River Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Hailey. Brittany Shipley is the program coordinator.