Caring for Your Mental Health Is Equally Important to Caring for Your Physical Health during COVID-19

Karen Gorby, Angel Medical Center President/CNO

Karen S. Gorby

Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, CEO and CNO of Angel Medical Center

I think it’s safe to say that each one of us has processed our feelings about COVID-19 in our own unique ways, but there isn’t a person who would say that the last five months have been easy to deal with emotionally. Our routines have been disrupted like never before, with children out of school and parents trying to do double duty, we feel physically isolated from those closest to us.

This kind of stress not only takes a physical toll, it affects our mental health and well-being. Our emotional health is nevertheless important to pay attention to, as it’s linked to our physical health. How do we preserve our mental health during this challenging time?

First of all, this health crisis is something we’ve never experienced before, and there are many things we still don’t know about COVID-19, which leaves us feeling a lack of control. Worries about all this uncertainty, like the “what ifs” around our own health and the health of our loved ones — especially if we’re in the position of being a caregiver, our jobs and finances, and what school will look like in the fall for our kids, weigh on us.

Unfortunately, some of the very things we must do to prevent the spread of the virus, like social distancing, increase our sense of isolation and add to our stress. There has been extensive coverage about the sharp increase in alcohol sales during the pandemic, and tobacco use, according to the American Cancer Society [1], is linked with poorer COVID-19 outcomes, so dealing with our stress in healthier ways is critical.

If you’re experiencing increased stress and feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, it’s important to seek help. Even though there shouldn’t be a stigma around getting mental health services, sometimes one remains. Seeking mental health treatment is every bit as important as seeking medical care when you’re physically ill, and building our emotional resilience is paramount during this time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2] (CDC) has tips that you can practice on your own that support your mental health, in addition to the option of seeking help from a licensed counselor or social worker. First, the same basic self-care strategies your doctor advises for you normally will help keep you mentally and physically strong now: eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, getting sufficient high-quality rest, and practicing stress reduction techniques, which can be anything from watching a funny movie to doing yoga.

Feelings of isolation can be lessened by connecting with family and friends by phone or video chat, even if it can’t be in person. It’s also important to know that you’re not alone in feeling this virus-fueled stress. We all react to stress differently, but it’s important to have strategies in place for dealing with it.

Finally, if you do start to feel ill or exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19, don’t panic. Call your primary care physician’s office and they will walk you through what you should do in terms of quarantining, treatment, and more. Even checking in with your doctor’s office now in order to feel well prepared may go a long way in helping you feel less stressed.

Everyone at Angel Medical Center is ready to care for you and your loved ones, during this exceptional time, should the need arise. We’re truly in this together; remember to take your “emotional temperature” each day as we weather this time, and to be proactive about seeking help if you need it. We also encourage you to continue practicing the “Three Ws”: wearing a mask, waiting at least six feet of distance between you and others, and washing your hands frequently.

Angel Medial Center


Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center. 

Angel Medical Center, a member of Mission Health, an operating division of HCA Healthcare, is a full-service community hospital serving Macon and the surrounding counties. Located in Franklin, North Carolina, Angel Medical Center is a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital offering inpatient services that include an intensive care unit, and a medical and surgical unit. Angel Medical Center has also been named an Acute Stroke Ready hospital by The Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Outpatient services include a wound clinic, chemotherapy services, a full laboratory, digital mammography, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, rehab therapy, as well as surgical and endoscopy services. The hospital also operates Mission My Care Now Franklin and CarePartners Hospice & Home Health. For more information, please visit missionhealth.org/angel [3].