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    Meyer: Inoculating yourself from vaccine anxiety

    By Melissa Meyer, MS, LPCC-S
    Marion Star — Guest columnist

    Should I sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination? If yes, when will I receive my two shots? If no, what does that mean in terms of social distancing, masks and other prevention steps?

    These questions resonate throughout the Marion community, as well as within my work and personal life. Our front-line responders and elderly neighbors are navigating the vaccine rollout system. About half of Maryhaven’s behavioral health specialists working in Marion County have so far been vaccinated, including me. And, my mother has been actively working to put her name on a number of lists so she can better protect her health at the earliest opportunity.

    What concerns me as a clinician, supervisor and daughter is the tremendous additional anxiety the vaccination process is causing us collectively and individually. We worry about supplies, wait times and long-term health impacts. And, yet we also long to return to “normal,” going to school, church, shopping and even movies without fear of exposure.

    We finally have reason to hope that we can end our year of “shut downs.” Yet, as often the case, reaching the end of a stressful period of time can actually cause great anxiety. We endlessly speculate on unknowns and issues outside of our control. It’s as if our minds can’t quite conceive that the world will truly get better.

    Whatever you decide about you and your loved one’s approach to staying physically healthy, please keep in mind some tips for reducing your stress:

    • Do your own research and consult with sources that you trust. I’ve found the Centers for Disease Control website very helpful. Others prefer to read the World Health Organization or updates from researchers at The Ohio State University. Still others talk to their own physician. No matter, just make sure you find the source believable.

    • Likewise, once you’ve decided your course of action, take a deep breath and let it go. Re-examining the decision, second-guessing your actions — all of these just add to feelings of uncertainty and confusion. You did your best and now be at peace.

    • Continue taking care of yourself. Take long walks outside as much as possible. Stay in touch with loved ones, even if it is virtually. Read good books or watch funny movies — all the activities that are enjoyable and relaxing.

    Where we stand right now reminds me of the last turn of a marathon. The race is almost over, but we can’t yet stop. Stay safe and push through until we reach the finish line.

    Melissa Meyer, MS, LPCC-S, is director of Regional Services for Maryhaven, Central Ohio’s largest and most comprehensive behavioral health services provider specializing in addiction recovery. 

    Read in the Marion Star