Buddha Groove’s Guru Series brings insight from experts across the fields of mindfulness, natural wellness, yoga, and meditation. This article features wisdom from licensed clinical social worker, Alisa Stamps.
“I wonder how all of the therapists are doing? I mean, they are holding all of our stuff plus all of their stuff. I wonder how they are doing that?”
This was the first time one of my clients had made a comment/observation like this since the onset of the pandemic. Of course most of them ask me how I’m doing, how my family is doing, but none except for this particular client had made this connection before. The first part of my response to this question referenced the statement that is mentioned in the title of this article—this is a lot to hold. The second part of my response was this: everyone used to just speak about their individual issues and challenges. Now, everyone is speaking about the virus AND their own individual issues and challenges. Like I stated before, this is a lot to hold.
So how do we hold all of this? I’ll share some things that my clients have found helpful, as well as some tools that I have found necessary to utilize during this unprecedented time.
- Get into a routine. This is really hard for some. Even if it feels like you have nowhere to go, take a shower, eat breakfast, go for your morning walk, etc. We can really thrive on structure, especially when all of our other “structures” have been dismantled.
- Be kind to yourself if you can’t get into a routine on that particular day. Something I am hearing from many clients and am experiencing myself is that there is a level of higher exhaustion unlike in previous times. If you need to rest that day, rest. Listen to the rhythms of your body while still pushing yourself gently from time to time.
- Be with nature. I cannot overstate the value of this enough. Every weekend my family and I go to the same park, with the same trails, where our dog can run off-leash. We have felt the weather warm and have watched the leaves on the trees go from buds to lush green. We have been present when our dog went from timidly standing on the shore to going into the creek that was up to his waist. This park has saved us. Being in nature has been essential to our souls.
- Honor the times your world feels hard. Be Aware of the loss or trauma responses (fight, flight, or freeze) that may come up. In those darker times feel free to sit with these feelings or reach out to connect. Utilize your support network, which could ultimately help to feel less alone.
- Find ways to release. Maybe this is through journaling, creating music or art, or punching in the air. Maybe this is running through an open field and yelling at the top of your lungs, or sitting in a corner and crying quietly. Experiment with not suppressing or pushing down uncomfortable feelings.
- Practice gratitude. By no means am I preaching that we should feel as though we “don’t have it as bad as many others” or that “my situation could be so much worse”? What I am offering is the suggestion to hone in on one to three things that you are grateful for in this moment. Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s the food on your table—sit in that and see what it does for you. It may also allow you to set an intention for the day, which can be a great way to glean some focus and allow ourselves to set manageable and reasonable goals.
- This one may be the most important—keep up with your mental health. If feasible, keep your weekly appointments with your therapist, or reach out and take that first step if you are in need. Make sure to stay on top of all of your psychotropic medications, and if you feel like your meds require a tweak or you are in need of psychiatric support, schedule that appointment.
As we continue on this strange ride that we are all in together, my hope is that these tools and suggestions have offered you something valuable and useful. This is a lot to hold, let’s honor that, and also see if we can set ourselves up to come out on the other side with a newfound sense of self-awareness, authenticity, and self-love.