Self-Care and Standing Together Offer Hope for the Future
“It’s an understatement to say that we’ve been through a lot in the last two years,” said Jim O’Loughlin, chief executive officer of Aiken Regional Medical Centers, during the REFLECT commemorative event, held January 14 on the hospital grounds. REFLECT, a Community Gathering of Hope and Fellowship, provided the crowd the opportunity to be with neighbors as they listened to hospital and community leaders speak in remembrance of loved ones.
Hardships caused by the pandemic were acknowledged, including not being able to visit sick loved ones due to restrictions, the closing of family-owned businesses that have served the community for generations, and the pandemic’s impact on the education of our children. Guest speakers also offered practical strategies and messages of hope for the future.
“We’re here to reflect and discover our own strength, perseverance and joy that can be shared and poured into our co-workers, family, friends and neighbors throughout 2022 and beyond,” said O’Loughlin.
Self-Care in Times of Uncertainty
“Isolation, worrying about our loved ones, altered daily schedules, financial pressures and more have resulted in feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness and loneliness for so many during this pandemic and have worsened symptoms for those already struggling with underlying mental health issues,” said Patrick Chambers, chief executive officer of Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Services.
Chambers offered the following self-care strategies that can help individuals feel better physically and mentally, especially in uncertain times.
- Exercise regularly
- Get adequate sleep
- Eat healthy foods
- Limit alcohol, and avoid tobacco and drugs
- Seek spiritual aid
- Adhere to a regular routine
- Limit news and media exposure
- Connect with others by lending help to family and friends in times of need
If the signs and symptoms of depression are experienced for more than several days in a row and begin to interfere with daily functions, Chambers urges to seek help right away. These can include feelings of helplessness, sadness, irritability, difficulty concentrating on routine tasks, and changes in appetite or sleep.
Hopeful Notes From Guest Speakers
“Just two years ago, we couldn’t imagine the impact this pandemic would have on so many families around the world. But through it all our community was able to count on Aiken Regional Medical Centers. I feel so honored to be here among such an extraordinary community.” — U.S. Representative Joe Wilson, Second Congressional District of South Carolina
“More than 800,000 in the country have succumbed to this virus since it began. It has left many empty chairs at tables in many households. This virus has changed the way we live and required us to adapt to a new normal. We need to do what’s required to protect ourselves and others; and we can thank God for allowing us to see another day.” — Gail Diggs, director of outreach and community services at Rural Health Services, Inc., member of Aiken City Council, District 1 and member of the Patient Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) at Aiken Regional Medical Centers
“We’ve already seen a glimmer of hope. Because of the vaccines, we can stand here today to reflect together in the humility of hope for a cure for COVID-19 and a hope for a better future together.” — Reverend Paul Bush, senior pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, president of the Concerned Ministers Fellowship and a member of the Board of Governors at Aiken Regional Medical Centers
“We’ve shown up for the work of the people. We’ve masked up, put sanitizer on hands, gave our students access to the information superhighway. We took turns hosting luncheons for our healthcare heroes and organized drive-by parades for our essential workers. … Many of our healthcare workers can tell stories of holding the hands of patients and helping relatives say their last goodbye to their loved one via FaceTime. … And I know it’s been hard. But imagine the lesson we can learn when we lean in and care for one another. In Aiken County, we learned that we would win if we did not quit.” — Eugene White, president of the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP
Special thank you to the event’s emcee Brooke Lundy, owner of Brooke Lundy Media. The event was closed with Lundy singing the inspirational pop-hit song Hero, written by singer-songwriter Mariah Carey.