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Three ways to manage your mental health during these unprecedented times

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 1/14/2021 Alison Starling/Elliot Henney (ABC7)

With the unrest at the Capitol, compounded with life in a pandemic, virtual learning, and an economic downturn, managing one's mental health can be a challenge. 

We're living in unprecedented times, and it seems like as soon as we think we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, more stressors seem to come our way.  As a professional, what do we do to try and manage all of this?

ABC7's Alison Starling spoke with a local doctor about how to manage one's mental health now that 2021 is bringing Washingtonians even more difficulties. 

What I see out there right now is a lot of anxiety, a lot of anxiety, a lot of not being able to sleep, a lot of depression, and like, 'I thought this should be over now,'" said Dr. Elspeth Ritchie, Chair of Psychiatry at Medstar Washington Hosptial Center. "So one of the things we can do is not think about the long-term, but focus on what we can do today, now, to both help ourselves, help our children, help our neighbors.

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So really, what Dr. Ritchie is getting at, is that we need to acknowledge there are things we can control and things we just can not.  

Dr. Ritchie explained that anxiety rears its ugly head when people are presented with situations they can't control, but there are things they can control.  She suggests maybe scheduling a walk during the day, to get some sunshine and exercise.  That's a situation one can control.  

Self-care is also an important component of surviving these times. 

Dr. Ritchie says that medication and exercise can help calm anxiety, but so can working with animals and perhaps taking your dog on a walk.  

There are three things that Dr. Richie recommends to manage our stress right now. 

  1. Controlling what you can control. 
  2. Self-care.
  3. Taking care of other people.  

Dr. Ritchie wants the focus here to be on taking care of people because she says, "when we're in a funk or down, it really helps to reach out to other people and make sure they're ok. 

Finally, Dr. Ritchie says that it might be time to get some professional help if depression or insomnia is interfering with your relationship or your job. 

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"If you start to feel suicidal, that's an emergency and you should go to the emergency room or otherwise get help right away," Dr. Ritchie said.  

You can watch the full interview with Dr. Ritchie below. 

Caption: Alison Starling interview with{{ }}Dr. Elspeth Ritchie


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