April 14, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is a bizarre, unprecedented, and intense time for all of us. After taking care of your household's needs, tasks, and responsibilities, you may feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety, fear, or have an uneasy feeling about being confined at home. Additionally, you may be experiencing concerns about yourself, your friends, or your family members becoming ill. In short, there's an incredible amount of stressors occurring simultaneously. Now more than ever, taking care of one's mental health is incredibly important. To help dial stress down a notch or two, our therapists in Austin have compiled a list of quick mental health exercises you can practice while you work from home during this tenuous time.
Picture one of your favorite places. It could be in the mountains, on a beach somewhere, or any place that carries special significance for you. Picture yourself at this place, and visualize your surroundings. Engage all of your senses one at a time, and nestle into the energy of this place, allowing it to encompass you, nourish you, and carry your anxieties and worries away.
You can also imagine a huge bubble growing above your head. Allow all of your fears, anxieties, and uncertainties to encapsulate the bubble, growing it bigger and bigger. When it’s just about ready to pop, visualize yourself reaching up with a pin, popping the bubble, and releasing its content into the ether.
Set a time for 10 minutes, and begin writing in a stream of consciousness way. Don't worry about grammar or spelling. Just keep your pen moving. Allow the process to unfold naturally to allow for a catharsis and an expression of your subconscious experiences.
Grief is a normal reaction to the current climate. Reframe your emotional experience as a grief reaction and allow yourself to access feelings associated with grief, such as anger, bargaining, denial, sadness, or depression.
You’re probably not the best version of yourself right now, and that’s 100% okay! Embrace this side of yourself, and allow yourself to “go there”. Now, more than ever, our world can feel upside down. Embrace this absurdity, and go ahead and have that donut, drink that glass of wine, or use a little more profanity than you might otherwise would. Do so without judgement or shame, and truly allow yourself to indulge and transgress. You may “need it” in ways that you wouldn't under normal circumstances.
Take time to reach into the depths of your soul and cultivate this experience. Do this in a way that works for you; meditation, prayer, yoga, reading scripture, taking a walk, or connecting with animals or nature are all examples of how you may choose to spend this time.
Reach out to those that you can be vulnerable with and let your guard down. Go ahead and share your struggles, insecurities, and anxieties. Lean on your relationships; it can be especially beneficial right now.
Yell, scream, and emote. Relaxation techniques can be extremely beneficial but can have limitations when the stressors are more pronounced. Take this into consideration, and do what you need to let it out. Do so in a way that doesn’t harm or threaten others, but go ahead and lean into your anguish.
Take breaks from the news, the pressure, and your responsibilities. This is a tense time, and there’s a lot to be informed about, a lot to do, and a lot to be prepared for. Show up for all of these things then carve out time to be away. Nothing is time-essential and this should be considered your ally now more than ever.
This natural psychological defense mechanism directs us to earlier stages of development to help us cope with severely overwhelming circumstances. Be compassionate and embracing of your feelings. Simply put, you may be experiencing younger versions of yourself during this time. Examples of regression can include: playing an instrument, upgrading a vehicle, listening to 80’s music, giving yourself a new hairstyle, receiving support from an animal, experimenting with the way you look, or needing more connection and overall support than you might normally desire.
Louis Laves-Webb and associates continue to offer online counseling during this difficult time. An online support group has also been created to address the growing feelings of anxiety, fear, loneliness, and helplessness surrounding COVID-19. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on how we're meeting our patients' needs during this difficult time and for additional tips on getting through this period.