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Feeling pandemic burnout? Here’s advice from mental health experts

Dr. Kristin Francis says it’s a sign of strength to ask for help when you need it.

As the pandemic nears its two-year mark, doctors are seeing more people seeking help for mental health.

Dr. Kristin Francis, a child and adolescent inpatient psychiatrist at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said people have been experiencing a complicated set of emotions especially as Omicron ripped through the country.

Francis said the range of emotions is normal due to the unprecedented times we are living in. She said it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and not feel shame or embarrassment.

“If you are feeling frustrated and irritable, we understand that,” she said. “I mean, that's normal and everyone is having a myriad of those kinds of more negative feelings.”

She said there are some coping strategies like taking a walk in the sun, staying hydrated and eating healthy that can help. Francis also said that paying attention to your sleep schedule is important as it can impact your mood.

But she encouraged seeking professional help when experiencing a long period of hopelessness.

“It is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength to ask for support when you need it,” she said. “So people are like, ‘How do I know when it's time?’ You know, it's a time when it's really impacting your life… When your life is starting to be really hard in ways that are just ongoing, we want you to seek help.”

Dr. Teague Cowley, a resident in psychology at the Huntsman Institute, said it’s important to avoid negativity and unhealthy coping habits.

“We want to be careful that we don't try to manage and cope with difficult feelings through substance use.” Cowley said. “Not only is it unhealthy and it's not good for us, but it also prevents us from building resilience.”

He said resilience can be built in different ways like mindful journaling, meditation, exercise or reconnecting with people but these strategies differ from person to person.

“It's important to recognize that [resiliency] it's not necessarily the avoidance of experiences, but actually being able to experience them and move through them and being able to return to those things that we enjoy.” he said. “Understanding resiliency is really critical as we as a society, live, sustain ourselves through the pandemic.”

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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