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Many Floridians struggle with mental health amid continuing pandemic; here are some best practices

As the pandemic continues, it can be difficult to find things to celebrate or enjoy while the list of things to worry about keeps growing.

However, experts say balancing those competing thoughts is how we’ll get through this.

Claudia Reyes’ family feels the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, like many of us.

The latest data from the CDC shows that in the last week of June, more than 43% of Floridians who responded to its survey experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression.

So, what do you do to help your mental health?

Ten-year-old Samuel Reyes signed up for online yoga classes with his mom, Claudia Reyes.

“The lack of interaction with the outside world now – it was driving him crazy and also me crazy,” Claudia said. “He gets very anxious and very stressed.”

While the stretching and breathing helped, instructor Julie Frizzi said her students’ favorite part is something most of us miss – socializing.

Frizzi is a yoga instructor and also a guidance counselor with Collier County Public Schools.

“Anything just to connect – I think they missed the connection,” she said. The latest research shows that’s exactly what we all need to do.

Michael Prinzing, a graduate fellow at the Parr Center for Ethics at UNC Chapel Hill, explained, “What really matters is, do you forge this strong connection with them? Do you establish this kind of caring warmth?”

Prinzing is also with UNC’s Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab and said mentally resilient people acknowledge negative emotions while staying open to good ones.

“They can experience these things at the same time,” Prinzing added. “The good things don’t get pushed out of the way when the bad things come.”

Claudia said her son was “more calm, and he was, ‘Okay, Mommy, let’s breathe together using the breathing relaxations.'”

For the Reyes’ family, it’s helping them get through the pandemic.

Researchers say the best practices that came out of the UNC study can be summarized by “MARCH”, which stands for:

  • Minimize passive scrolling through social media.
  • Accept negative emotion.
  • Really connect with people.
  • Care for yourself.
  • Help others.
Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Derrick Shaw
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