Local

Coronavirus pandemic taking toll on people’s mental health

SEATTLE — The coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of uncertainty and that's taking a toll on people's mental health.

Sam Benoit has been working at The Other Coast Café in Ballard for the last five years. He’s fortunate to still have a job but the uncertainty is affecting his mental health.

>> Coronavirus: Washington updates

“We’re all waking up every day just not knowing what happens next,” Benoit explained.

Benoit isn't alone.

Hayley Quinn, a clinical psychologist at Swedish, says her clinic has been fielding more questions because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said there are practical steps people can take to cope with the fear and anxiety.

>> RELATED: Managing mental health during the coronavirus outbreak: 7 tips from a behavioral health consultant

“We can't control what's happening. We can't control whether our job is going to be there tomorrow or what this is going to look like even in a month. But it's good to focus on the things you can control. This is keeping your daily routine, waking up, not oversleeping, keeping up with your exercise, doing things you'd normally do throughout the day,” Quinn explained.

That's why Mackenzie Kolb decided to venture out. She's a traveling nurse who just moved to Seattle two weeks ago.

“It’s such an isolating experience moving to a new city you expect to be able to explore and see and do fun things and I’ve had to sit at home. She’s the first person I’ve seen today,” Kolb said, referring to a friend.

Jim Hamilton said he copes by staying off social media.

“The important thing to me is information and as much scientific information as I can digest,” Hamilton added.

For Benoit, seeing the support of the community helps.

“That’s one of the weird silver lining things in this terrible time is reconnecting with people who have been coming in for years,” Benoit said.

Quinn also suggests downloading meditation apps.