HONOLULU Magazine Launches Free Virtual Mental Wellness Series With “Life Interrupted: Moments”

Our first talk-story webinar shares tools, tips and some stark realities about coping with all those moments missed during COVID-19.
honolulu magazine wellness zoom panel


Getting through the day during a pandemic can feel like a rollercoaster ride for all of us. The mental health experts who joined us for our first Life Interrupted webinar remind us the daily stress can take a toll. However, some tools that remind us to connect with others, as well as checking in on our own feelings, can help.


We recorded the one-hour talk story session so you can watch it or share it with loved ones (see, below). But we also pulled out some highlights to share.


SEE ALSO: Life Interrupted: A Free Virtual Series on Mental Wellness


Clinical psychologist Robin Miyamoto is a faculty member of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine with the departments of Native Hawaiian Health, and Family Medicine and Community Health. But she’s also been personally experiencing the moments lost when her daughter, a graduating high school senior, and her family were forced to do everything differently.


“Finding ways to really celebrate the moment regardless of the situation,” says Miyamoto, can help. In their case they pivoted to “a small family dinner with social distancing and separate food and really managed expectations of why this is important.” She says the graduation celebrations ended up much smaller but may have been more meaningful. “It really helps to simplify things and enjoy the moment. It was really just celebrating family and celebrating her.”


Mestisa Gass, program director for Mental Health America of Hawai‘i, talked about how important it is to find ways to care for yourself and to realize that your needs may change from day to day. One week you may garden like a pro, bake bread that could be displayed at a patisserie and learn a new language; the next week, you may not want to get out of bed.


“It’s very easy for us to get to a place of feeling like we should be productive, we have all this time, and that’s just not realistic,” Gass says. “We’re feeling a lot more stress and anxiety.” She suggests recognizing all feelings are valid and for people to “reach out to your support system and use the skills you have.”


Gass, a member of the statewide and O‘ahu Suicide Prevention Task forces, says tough times can require tough questions. “It’s very important just to ask the question, not to soften it and to say ‘Are you thinking about hurting yourself?’ but to ask clearly ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’ so that you know.”


Dan Chun is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu where he’s been since 1994. “When COVID hit, it was horrendous. It was immediate stress and anxiety,” Chun says. “Our church had to close and we had a four-day notice,” and it also canceled a conference scheduled for 2,500 participants at the Hawai‘i Convention Center that week. One of the first things they did was low tech: “We decided we would call every single member in our church and just give that personal touch, because we knew we were going into high tech,” Chun says. They reached out to ask people about their health—physical, mental and spiritual—and to discourage any thoughts of comparing their feelings with others. A few weeks later, they called more than 1,200 members again.


The Life Interrupted session combines expert advice with personal examples.Here are some of our panel’s helpful tips for COVID-19 daily coping:


  • It’s OK to feel anxious. Ask yourself, what am I grateful for?

  • Try positive coping strategies: garden, read, watch a movie, take deep breaths, go outside, move your body.

  • Take control of what you can control. Let go of those things you can’t control.

  • Stay updated on the news, but don’t overdo it.

  • Connect and check in with others by phone, text, video, group chats or texts.

  • Remember that we’re in this together, so let’s spread aloha.


Watch our whole webinar


Resources and hotlines:


  • Mental health help from Mental Health America of Hawai‘i

  • Domestic Violence Action Center O‘ahu, (808) 531-3771, or toll-free 1-800-690-6200

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)

  • Child abuse reporting hotline O‘ahu, (808) 832-5300, or toll-free 1-888-380-3088

  • Child trafficking reporting hotline, (808) 832-1999, or toll-free 1-888-398-1188


Our next live discussion, Life Interrupted: Youth, will be Thursday, June 4 at 1 p.m. Click here to read about the entire schedule and register for sessions.


Read more stories by Robbie Dingeman