Minnesota is entering its 11th month of quarantine. The mandate to increase pandemic protocols while, at the same time, asking students and workers to maintain educational goals and work outputs has led to an all-time high in reported mental health issues.
To say that the quarantine has been taxing on the world's psyche could be an understatement. According to the US Census Bureau, in December more than 42% of people surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, which is up from 11% the year before. With millions of deaths, uncountable economic hardships, and heretofore never before seen limitations on social interaction, it’s no wonder these numbers are showing.
However, as the worldwide pandemic slides into its second year, many people are bracing themselves with techniques to keep those negative feelings of depression and anxiety at bay.
That’s where Amy Quarberg comes in.
“There is no doubt that added stress will lead to poor health,” Quarberg said during a phone interview last week. “The key is to be aware and present in those moments you feel anxiety and then take control as you need.”
As part of the Back to Basics Virtual Sustainability conference, Quarberg will be kicking off the event with a keynote address titled “Practical Tips to Decrease Stress and Increase Joy” on Saturday, February 20th at 11am.
As an integrative nurse and speaker, she will share stories of the “physiological dance between our mind, body, and spirit”.
Quarberg states, “There is a direct and immediate connection between the mind, body and the spirit. The truth is, they are inseparable. Once that connection is better understood and appreciated, you can start to pay more attention to the thoughts you are having, notice the effect it has on your body and spirit, and then make adjustments as needed”.
She continues to say that the action/reaction system that everyone’s bodies participate in, is where we can make the most difference. Normally, when presented with a micro-stressor our body will handle it without much input from us. It’s something we just deal with and then move on in our day. However, if these micro-stressors add up without an intentional break, it can lead to fatigue, detachment, and uninspiring work.
“These little reactions are all automatic in our body. However there are a few that can be manipulated by a conscious effort,” Quarberg states. “Once a person is able to recognize these moments, a true state of personal empowerment will take place, leading to the ability to feel better and potentially heal faster.”
The Mayo Clinic suggests several self-care strategies that will help fight off stress related injuries. They recommend adequate amounts of sleep, an implementation of a structured routine, and limitations to screen time, for which Quarberg is fully on board.
Quarberg laughed as she said, “I’ve found that a lot of my stress can be minimized by taking many breaks from my phone and television news. I love to just go outside and breathe deeply, because that’s what’s real. That’s the normal. Birds are still chirping. The wind is still crisp. It’s good to see that life is still going on, even with all the additional man-made stressors in it.”
You can see Quarberg in the first episode of the Netflix Documentary series “Unwell” as well as online at AmyQuarberg.com
Mental illness is something you don’t have to tackle on your own. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please know that the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is there for support, services, and treatment. They have local and online help centers for those looking for a boost.
Headquartered in Pine River, Minnesota, Happy Dancing Turtle is an operating nonprofit organization (501(c)3) dedicated to growing good stewards of the planet by providing education, programs, and experiences for youth and adults