NEW BUFFALO — In times of crisis, it’s hard to find the silver lining. But numerous studies have shown that feelings of happiness actually “undoes” the negative cardiovascular effects of stress on the body.

Natalie Hartney, LPC NCC, The Optimistic Therapist in New Buffalo, says staying positive is very important.

“A number of my clients are having trouble adjusting and feeling secure because information is changing at such a rapid pace. Many conservative minded people believed that it was “like a flu,” and are more nervous now because that information was not accurate.

Hartney adds that she is also seeing paralysis in decision-making because they don’t know what to do. “People are just overwhelmed.” .

On a busy Sunday afternoon on March 15, many New Buffalo residents were found shopping at Barney’s. While many admit to feeling “seriously overwhelmed”, all agreed that coming together as a community is what’s needed most.

Lifelong resident Kelsey Stark offered this advice. “I hope people will remember to check on their elderly neighbors living alone.

Brian, who has lived in New Buffalo for 36 years but didn’t want to share his last name added, “We need to take a community approach - not a political approach. That won’t solve anything. Negative remarks about local, state or national leaders is not what’s needed. Be smart, be safe.”

Jim Smyth adds, “We can’t do anything about this situation and the world is in this together. Even though we can’t be together in person, we can still connect.”

Karen Jon Dante suggests this: “Enjoy this time with your family. Slow down. Get in touch with old friends on the phone. Everyone is feeling isolated, sad and lonely. Don’t disconnect. Reconnect.”

Beloved actor Tom Hanks, who is being treated for the coronavirus in Australia,  recently portrayed beloved Fred Rogers, who had this advice for people in times of tragedy. “Look for the helpers.” His mother said to seek these people in times of tragedy.

New Buffalo’s Optimistic Therapist agrees. “Help others. Take care of yourselves and each other.”

More advice from New Buffalo’s Optimistic Therapist:

1. If you have the space and time, check out Udemy. They have Inexpensive video courses on a number of topics-from mindfulness to planning your spring garden. This can be a good time to transfer anxiety to energy for growth.

2. Video chat with a friend. Even better, have a virtual spa night! Share memories of good times, make plans for the future. Appreciate the gifts of now.

3. Remember to connect with your love. If being with your partner makes you feel secure, ask for what you need. If you need to be held, let them know that. Offer to hold, touch, soothe.

4. The biggest thing is to surrender. The more we try to act like nothing is really going on, the more dissonance we experience. Find reliable sources, weed out others, and ask yourself how to best live in alignment with your core values while managing this time of crisis. And if you’re unsure what your core values are, there are lots of fun activities on line to help you discover them. And imagine the fun of exploring and testing your new discoveries with a friend.

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