We’re facing uncharted territory in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries sheltering in place. Some of us have gotten ill and thankfully are recovering while many more of us know someone who has been affected. Everybody is living in the “new normal” of uncertainty coupled with isolation and possible economic concerns. In addition, social distancing and navigating relationships in close quarters pose great challenges.
No one prepared us for the disruption of our daily routines and increased time spent at home. This adjustment may create strain on marriages or with family members. It may feel like we’re deprived of our freedom, and shortcomings in our partner may seem more magnified. We can take control of any tension by communicating as much as possible, and finding space in confinement, whether it means spending time in separate rooms, taking a safe walk outside, or establishing new and necessary routines and boundaries. As we navigate this turbulent journey together, we can try to treat both ourselves and loved ones with respect and kindness and be forgiving when we fall short of this ideal. For many people, the anxiety of the unknown, how exactly we’ll be impacted, and when this will end, may feel suffocating – but it doesn’t have to. There are many things we can do in the face of this unforeseen crisis to manage anxiety and fears.
- Take breaks from the news and social media – fear can be contagious and constant exposure to negative news can be draining – perhaps turn on a favorite show or a movie for a distraction.
- Take care of your body – if possible, go for a daily walk in isolation, nourish your body with nutritious meals, make an effort to get plenty of sleep, or practice yoga.
- Make time for self-care – start a book, practice Kristin Neff’s short self-compassion meditation, listen to music, take a soothing bath.
- Connect with others – call a loved one to check in, plan a virtual lunch date with a friend, or re-connect with friends from the past – you are NOT in this alone!
- Have a gratitude practice – think about what you are thankful for in this moment – write down a few things you are grateful for – they can be as basic as food on your plate and a roof over your head.
- Breathe – be conscious of slowing down your breathing when you get anxious. Here is a simple breathing exercise called Square Breathing Technique.
If we can remind ourselves that this situation is temporary, we can take solace that each passing day is a step closer to a return to normalcy. We can even use this time to reflect on our lives and focus on new goals for the future. During this challenging time, I am offering virtual sessions by appointment via Zoom and telephone and Rebecca is offering affordable online psychotherapy as well. Please do not hesitate to reach out to either of us, we are here for you. I also hope to run a virtual workshop in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned for The Inner Stage emails for updates and upcoming opportunities to connect with The Inner Stage community. I look forward to seeing you at my open workshops in person again in the future. Remember, this too shall pass.
Be well and safe,
– Valerie Simon, LCSW, TEP