Radically Accepting 2020: Pt 2
July 3, 2020
Throughout the month of May I was asked to offer my mental health perspectives for one of my best friend’s pages (IG @urbnplayground) for a weekly mental health Q&A to discuss how to understand what we have been experiencing as we are adjusting to our post-COVID life. Then in June once again we were all faced with state of race in our country, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, & protests to bring awareness to systemic racism against Black Americans. I tend to understand most experiences through the lens of trauma & I think most would agree that we are going through a collective trauma as we learn how to adjust to life in 2020.
#1: ESTABLISH SAFETY
In the first phase of trauma recovery we have two feel safe in two different ways : within our own bodies & in our surrounding environment (Herman, 1992). Our biggest need right now is safety. The unknowns such as what/where is safe, are just that, unknowns. They were always unknowns–even before the pandemic; we’ve only been relying on a sense of security (Knudson, 2020). To help the body (and mind) return to physical safety, try the following:
- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Try one as simple as breathing in for four steady counts and exhaling for the same.
- Meditation/Mindfulness: Calm, Headspace apps, and Insight Timer are a few of our top favorites.
- Grounding: by definition, grounding refers to a physical or spiritual connection with Nature or the literal ground.
Processing describes retelling our story. Journaling & writing are great ways to Science has shown that there is a connection between the physical act of writing and improved mood.
- Makes connection between thoughts & feelings
- Creates alternative perspectives & reflect on our experience
- Identify & label emotions
We may not have realized it in our day-to-day, pre-COVID socializing (going to the gym, happy hours, etc.), but a pandemic may cause us to take a closer look at which interactions establish meaningful connections and whether or not those connections remain nourished within our relationships with others (Knudson, 2020).
- Assess the quality vs quantity of your relationships & address true source of loneliness
- Consider creative ways to connect with family and friends virtually & more authentic ways.
- Maintain the boundaries you need to keep you & others safe. While you may see others socializing decide make impact decisions about your own risk tolerance
Worry is completely normal. It only becomes unhelpful when you focus excessively on hypothetical worries instead of practical worries. It’s easy to get caught up in fear and allow it to snowball into a daylong activity with no parameters (Knudson, 2020). Give your fear and worry some structure:
- Acceptance – that life & the world is different now & likely need to learn a new set of skills to navigate this
- Although worry & anxiety are designed to keep you safe. Focus your energy on those things within your control while letting go of the others.
- ‘Schedule’ or compartmentalize worry (ex. Give self 15m /day to worry).
#5: POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH
Post traumatic growth is the believe that growth, meaning, & wisdom can be gained from both positive and negative life experiences. Life offers ongoing opportunities for new learning.
- Resilience – learned strategies and practices, adapting well in the face of adversity; ask how have you dealt with other big challenges in your life.
- Gratitude-difficult to feel thankful and stressed at the same time; focusing on gratitude can help get you out of your stress response and build positive emotions such as joy, optimism, and happiness.
- Balance – We have a limited amount of time and energy each day. Balance is not a matter of figuring out how to do everything, but prioritizing what’s most important at the time against your personal values & goals.
Herman, J. L. (1997). Trauma and recovery. New York: BasicBooks.