SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Local mental health experts are encouraging people to take time for their mental health and emotional well being—stressing the need for community members to pause, evaluate their mental state, and address how they are feeling.

The Chatham Safety Net Planning Council is dedicating time to teach people how to use Mindful Self-Compassion to cope with the impacts of COVID-19. Vira Salzburn, the program’s director, said social-distancing can feel isolating, and recommended utilizing online platforms and resources to create moments to connect.

“You know we live in this world of reaction; reacting to events, reacting to things we hear and see, but how can we maybe pause and make a little bit more space and rather than react, respond with kindness and awareness to ourselves and others,” Salzburn stated.

Salzburn recommended practicing simple measures like pausing when you begin to feel overwhelmed; a step she said can help rewire our brains to know how to positively process negative emotions.

The Mindful Self-Compassion Program and tools are available for anyone. The Chatham Safety Net Planning Council instructors are planning to work with first responders and teachers to help them navigate high stress situations. Verbal validation and physical recognition are practices Salzburn said can help break down our indicators of stress and anxiety. Physical touch, deep breaths, an uplifting activity, and practicing gratitude are all steps, Salzburn said are medically proven to reduce emotional and physical harm.

You can call 912-661-0577 to find out more about all of the free resources the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council offers.