I began this article by writing out a dozen things people could do to better cope with some of the craziness surrounding us right now. Then I thought about how no one really wants to read a long article about 12 things they could or should be doing while they’re just trying to keep their heads above water. I decided to distill the list into the 3 tips below. Here goes –
1) Handle with Care. Imagine every one of us has a sticker with these very words on it. This is an extraordinary time. As a result, we need to be extraordinarily gentle and kind to ourselves and with others. Set realistic expectations – regarding work, home-schooling your kids, your relationships, preparing for and celebrating upcoming holidays. You may not accomplish everything the way you originally imagined, everything might not go according to plan, and that will have to be okay for now. Perfectionism was never your friend anyway. Practice compassion.
2) Give and Receive. Back and forth, ebb and flow, inhale and exhale – this is the natural order of things. This is how things remain “in flow.” If we can find ways to both give and receive and stay connected to our families, our friends, our communities, we feel less isolated and alone, we maintain a sense of purpose, we contribute to others, and we allow others to bestow their gifts on us. Giving might be as simple as calling someone to see how they are or dropping off some groceries. Receiving can be as easy as listening to and laughing at someone’s joke or eating a sandwich your spouse (who doesn’t normally “cook”) prepared for you. Give yourself permission to both help and be helped.
3) Feel what you need to feel. We mobilize in times of crisis; we do what we must to survive and get through. Then when the pressure is off, when the crisis passes, we often fall apart. If you can, find opportunities to let some steam off periodically in healthy ways (for those on the front lines, I realize this may be more difficult). Have a good cry, go for a walk, write and rip (that’s when you dump everything you want to say or scream on a piece of paper and then shred it so your feelings don’t stay pent up inside you, and they don’t land on anyone else either), listen to music that mirrors what you’re feeling, create art that channels your emotions. Feel your feelings, tune in to them, honor and acknowledge them, and then allow them to move through you (another nod to the concept of “flow”). There may be grief and loss, anger, frustration, and fear, as well as gratitude, love, appreciation and surprising moments of calm as well. Feel it all, process it all, so that you can move forward in the healthiest way possible and so that you don’t find yourself feeling ambushed or blindsided by your emotions later on.
If you find yourself struggling with any of these strategies or with coping with changes necessitated by Covid-19 in general, I encourage you to reach out. I am currently administering all counseling sessions via phone or Doxy.me, a HIPAA compliant video conferencing platform which is super easy to use. I provide both traditional psychotherapy as well as integrative hypnosis for those that are interested. I can be reached at (973)306-9996 or go to https://www.3stepsforward.net/ to learn more.
Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC, Cl. Hyp of Three Steps Forward, LLC is a psychotherapist and integrative hypnotherapist. She has offices in Denville and Florham Park.