Stoughton Health President and CEO and Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) Council on Rural Health Chair Dan DeGroot kicked off the virtual 2021 WHA Wisconsin Rural Health Conference on June 3 by praising health providers for serving as the “cornerstone” to their communities in the fight against COVID-19. Thanking conference sponsors for their support of the event, DeGroot also spoke of the need for continued focus on issues affecting rural health. He announced with anticipation the dates for next year’s WHA Wisconsin Rural Health Conference in Green Bay: June 15-17, 2022.
The conference’s opening speaker, Purdue University lecturer and therapist Will Miller, Ph.D., focused on strategies and techniques for coping with the stress and anxiety that can be brought on in life, especially during such extraordinary times as the COVID-19 pandemic. His presentation entitled Facing Modern Realities: Counsel for Coping
employed effective storytelling to show how stress and anxiety can manifest in day-to-day life.
“Thoughts are not real. They are helpful as a construct, but the constant thought of ‘what if’ interferes with living and being calm,” Miller observed, recommending a strategy of “erase and replace” to focus on the things that can be controlled in life. He also suggested a strategy of deep breathing and meditation to control “runaway thinking.”
Miller discussed in detail the neuroscience behind one’s ability to cope, as well as one’s inability to cope. “The amygdala houses the fight or flight response and can also trigger depression. It takes seven-to-eight weeks of changing brain habits in order to develop new thoughts," he said.
Miller noted that during the pandemic, we have all had a loss of “familiar attachments,” and that is what has triggered anxiety and depression for some people. His practical strategies for coping were a reminder that we have,inside of ourselves many of the tools to needed to persevere.
See a wrap-up of the 2021 Wisconsin Rural Health Conference in photos here.