Updated: Jan 9, 2021
Does your stress spike when you see the phrase “COVID-19” at this point? If so, I’m with you. There’s always the chance as therapists that we’ll relate to what a client may be going through, but in this period, we’re all going through the same thing together. Therapists are not immune to the depression holes, OCD flare-ups, or emotional devastation this year has wrought. Wherever you’re at right now, we’ve probably been there too. Here are several of the things that I’ve been personally using and sharing with clients as we all try to navigate one of the most difficult years to date.
Reaching out and turning in:
This is always a balance to be aware of, but especially during a time of increased stress and social isolation. If you live with others you might feel suffocated in quarantine, and if you live alone you’ve likely been struggling with lack of social interaction. Humans weren’t meant to live in isolation, we’re relational beings, and we also need time to connect with ourselves. Identify where you might need to increase, whether that’s intentionally creating more time for video chats with others or setting boundaries on your time for yourself. While we all need both (social connection and time to self-care), be aware of your own constitution in terms of this; it doesn’t have to look like a 50/50 split to look and feel like balance for you. Reaching out to a therapist for support can help if navigating this line is tricky right now.
First, radical acceptance doesn’t mean that a global pandemic is okay. It’s about recognizing where we’re fighting reality. We can spend a lot of energy, time, and anxiety spinning our wheels about things that were never in our control. When we get stuck in these patterns, we can also get stuck in dark spirals of anger, sadness, numbness. The application of acceptance to the pandemic allows us to identify what’s in our control, and work towards radical acceptance of all that’s outside of it. Start by noticing where you feel like you’re “fighting,” maybe you’ll notice this through emotions, behaviors, or physical sensations. From here you can identify what you might need to practice acceptance with, ie: I need to radically accept that I can’t control when the pandemic will get better. The other side of this is, of course, finding empowerment in what is in our control, ie: I can do my part to help it get better by socially distancing, and following recommended safety guidelines. This exercise in acceptance coupled with finding moments of joy, safe connection, and support is keeping me grounded. It doesn’t mean that we have to like or accept the situation. My intention is to create a space of comfort/relief/gratitude within an inherently uncomfortable one. Right now, we all have to find that space however we can.