Avera Medical Minute: Dealing with COVID guilt

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 3:08 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Some mental health professionals are calling it the second wave: the rise in care needed for those who have suffered during the pandemic.

With every new person vaccinated, comes the hope that we’re nearing the end of the pandemic. Avera behavioral health therapist Larry Ling and his colleagues are counseling those who are processing the pandemic’s effect on their lives.

“Everyone’s got some stuff pent up because they felt like for the longest time, they just needed to be strong,” said Ling.

Of the many emotions, one that surfaces is guilt. It can be as simple as the guilt for gaining weight or stopping an exercise routine.

“I think you got to give yourself some grace, and some patience, and know that that was, you know, a result of disruption in your life,” said Ling.

For some, there’s a heavyweight of believing they passed along the virus to someone else.

“We didn’t know at first that you could look fine, and still have COVID to pass it on. It’s COVID fault, which means the virus’s fault. So, no virus nobody gets sick,” said Ling.

Clients often say similar things about feeling guilty.

“If I let go of this and it means I don’t, I don’t feel sorry about it or I’m not caring, and that’s not true,” said Ling.

Some people may wonder why they recovered, while others lost their lives.

“Guilt in any situation is difficult. Survivor’s guilt is because you’re alive. And, you know, this is an opportunity for you to live even though, you know someone in your family died,” said Ling.

Small steps can help toward the road to finding peace, including finding things to be grateful for every day.

“The more you do that, the more you realize what you have to be thankful for. Even when you have lost somebody. And as a result of that. Eventually getting back to what you still have, and can be grateful for can take the edge off the grief, a little bit,” said Ling.

Self-care can also help.

“We preach to all clients is good sleep, nutrition, and movement. Thos e three are the core of any sort of mental health treatment,” said Ling.

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