Dr. Bernadette Melnyk hosted yesterday’s webinar in order to help the Ohio State community cope with the effects of COVID-19. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

In times of uncertainty and quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bernadette Melnyk wants the Ohio State community to keep a positive mindset.

Melnyk, the university’s chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing, held a webinar to discuss strategies and tips for easing stress and anxiety about COVID-19 Thursday, according to an Ohio State press release. Over 1,300 people registered to watch her presentation, Melnyk said.

“Stress and anxiety is incredibly high right now, along with fear and panic,” Melnyk said. “During times like this, we have got to look for some silver linings. We have got to think about what can we do for each other to help each other to be kind, to care about each other more so than ever.” 

Melnyk’s presentation included ways in which we can keep a positive attitude and alleviate stress, including practicing deep breathing techniques, staying active in the house, spending time with family and limiting the amount of news intake about COVID-19.

“It is so important to be in tune with our own cues to how we are dealing with COVID-19,” Melnyk said. “If we can monitor our emotions and our physical symptoms, we can regulate those more effectively, early, before we begin to suffer adverse effects.”

Melnyk said we should refrain from using the phrase “social distancing,” a term used to describe the deliberate act of increasing physical space between people in order to prevent the spread of an illness, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website. 

“We need virtual social interaction like crazy right now,” Melnyk said. “Distancing is extremely important. But let’s talk about physical distancing, not social distancing.”

In her presentation, Melnyk also provided resources for community members to use to help them manage their stress, including a new seven-week course in the fall called MINDSTRONG worth one credit. 

The aim of the course is to improve overall mental and physical health and support positive adaptation to stress, anxiety and depression, according to an executive summary of the course. 

Melnyk’s office also created a new webpage within the Health and Wellness website go.osu.edu/copingwithcovid19, where a recorded version of the webinar will be available.

“Rainbows follow rain,” Melnyk said at the conclusion of her presentation. “We will build strength and resiliency through this. There is hope.”

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