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Written by Anna Marcolin, LCSW and host of The Real Therapist Podcast.
The world is experiencing a health crisis today the likes of which no one alive has seen before. The healthcare professionals on television and social media are talking about their workplaces in terms of it being a “war time” environment.
Just when we are hoping to see the statistics and numbers of this virus go down, we wake up in the morning to hear more terrifying news about the overnight diagnoses and death tally’s. And that Covid-19 won’t peak in some states for another two weeks.
Many of us are worried. Many of us are nervous and feeling scared. We’re concerned about our older parents; our friends. We’re freaked out that we might get sick. We’re annoyed and irritated with having kids home 24/7 and with no foreseeable break in sight. Our home space has changed and things feel out of control. We’re worried if we’ll have a job when this whole thing is over.
The list goes on and on.
All of this information is enough to put one into a catatonic, mumbling- to – themselves, nonsensical state.
IF we let it. And the IF Is The Key.
Although we are not in control of coronavirus, we ARE in control of what we say to ourselves; who we choose to listen to; as well as how much or how little we choose to engage in corona talk. As a psychotherapist who has been in private practice for 20 years, I have been privileged to spend thousands of hours speaking with and working together with people around their anxieties and depressions. And the skills I use to work with clients to help alleviate fear and sadness are exactly the skills we need to use to help ourselves in these trying times.
I’ve put together a list of some key tools that we know can help to allay nerves and fears during this time. You can adopt one of them, a few of them, or all of them. Do what feels right and what you think might work for you.
Practice daily meditation.
It can be hard to do but neuroscience has proven over and over that meditation really works to quiet the mind.
Just start with a 5-10 minute meditation. Do whenever you can steal a few minutes for yourself. There many app’s out there that will help you with this. For example, Headspace, 10% Happier and Calm.
Create a routine.
If you have children at home, create a routine; put a schedule together. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. For those with younger children, decide which parent is monitoring/overseeing E-learning. For single parents, don’t beat yourself up for allowing the kids more screen time.
Give yourself a break. Literally and figuratively.
Give yourself a much needed respite. Break up the day into activities. Make sure you get yourself and kids outside each day.
Create boundaries for yourself.
If you have a partner, work with them on creating new boundaries for living your whole life at home. Maybe that is giving each other time alone; one takes care of the kids while the other gets to work out. Also, delineate certain boundaries in parts of your home for work, meals, sleeping/sex, exercise.
Acknowledge your feelings, it’s ok to feel loads of emotions.
You may be having all kinds of thoughts and feelings right now-it’s ok. Be with them and feel them. And you may experience the range of thoughts such as “Oh I’m kinda liking this time to chill out” to “OMG get me out of here!” And that’s ok. Just try to be mindful of when anger and frustration start to pop up for you. If you live with others, I would recommend having a code word for when you are “hitting a wall” emotionally. That could be your way of letting the other adults know you need an “adult time out”. And we ALL need time outs.
It’s also ok to feel frustrated by “stuckness” right now.
Many people tell me that they are feeling “stuck” in that their life’s processes have been, very abruptly, put on hold. That book launch that isn’t happening, that divorce that’s now not getting finalized, that small business that’s not starting. It IS frustrating and can feel demoralizing. But know that this time will pass. You will get there with your dreams and goals.
This Too Shall Pass.
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