“In the midst of winter, I discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.”
It’s been almost three years since I wrote anything for this blog. I wondered what it would take for me to begin writing again. Now I know-an epic pandemic. Like everyone else, I’m trying to find a foundation upon which to stand before the ground shifts again. I’m not a worrier, nor am I a particularly anxious person, but I bounce back and forth between the two. I’m trying to find a place to psychologically settle.
I moved to a new office March 1st after looking for almost a year. I had just finished putting up diplomas and prints, and adding the little odds and ends so essential to setting up a psychotherapy office. By the second week in March, I was gone. It was ill-advised and possibly dangerous for my health and that of my client to continue to practice in the traditional manner. That thought was so disturbing, I didn’t even try to analyze the pros and cons. It felt a bit like evacuating before the fire reaches you, I grabbed only what I needed and left the rest.
But in my haste to vacate, I left behind some critical items. So, I went back on a weekend when I knew no one else would be in the office building. The fewer the people there, the less the chance I would catch or spread the potentially lethal virus. I Lysol-wiped all the door handles and turned on light switches with my elbow on the way down the stairs to the office. As I left, the process was reversed. So bizarre. My virology trained mother would have been so proud.
I now “see” clients from my home office via telemental health. I am beginning to ground myself and step into what is being referred to as the ‘new normal.’ I have returned to what I know best, positive psychology, the study of thriving. In particular, the bedrock of Emotional Resilience. One thing I know for certain, what promotes thriving in everyday life is even more critical in a crisis. Resilient people adapt to a crisis.
“Resilience in positive psychology refers to the ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths, and other positive capacities of psychological capital like hope, optimism, and self-efficacy. (www.positivepsychology.com)
The following list may be helpful. I practice all myself. Some may seem simplistic or obvious, but these are emotional building blocks. In no particular order…
- Sleep-This is ground zero for a healthy life. If you do not get at least six hours of sleep per night, you will not be as psychologically or physically healthy as you could be. Turn off your cell phone and let go of the day.
- Exercise-Do what appeals to you, especially now. There are now innumerable streaming video services for whatever type of activity you enjoy. (dailyburn.com and dailyom.com are two of my favorites) Walking is wonderful if you can maintain that critical six foot distance from others.
- Get Outside-Your porch or deck is just fine. At least 10-15 minutes would be ideal. Being in nature is some of the best therapy, it’s called “forest bathing.”
- Gardening-It’s reassuring that spring is coming whether or not the virus is leaving. Get your hands dirty and play with the earth. Maybe you only have pots on a balcony, clean those up and plant seeds that you order online.
- Earthing-This may sound a bit unusual but I find it beneficial, it’s also a complement to forest bathing. The idea is to feel the earth by walking in bare feet. Obviously, check your surroundings to ensure there aren’t any foreign objects, ticks, etc.
- Clean Your Closets & Drawers-Whatever you have put off for months or even years, now is the time. It is often said that your external environment mirrors your internal world. In the midst of chaos, it is calming when your home environment is free of clutter and exudes serenity.
- Stop Posting Primarily Negative Info on Social Media-I’m not even going to explain this one, just stop it!
- Watch Your Screen Time-Be informed, but don’t go down a rabbit hole looking for grim virus stories. Lingering in a negative headspace is not healthy. Negativity feeds on itself.
- Meditation & Relaxation-No fancy pillows or mats are needed, just sit or lie somewhere and focus on inhaling and exhaling. Allow random thoughts to float away like clouds. There are also wonderful apps, my favorite is Calm. Clients love Headspace.
- Be Mindful of Your Alcohol & Food Intake-Many of us are indulging with one or the other and rationalize that it is okay because we are under stress. Exactly, all the more reason to eat healthy and eliminate alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, not helpful at all if you are struggling with depression and anxiety.
Our world has changed, our personal and professional lives may never be the same. That doesn’t mean it will be worse, but our lives will most certainly be different. That which is not meaningful will fall away, and what we cherish most will remain. This darkness will pass somehow. For now, seek your “invincible summer.”