Updated: Oct 19, 2020
I am sending warm hugs to everyone as we continue to navigate life in the midst of a pandemic. The demand (or dare I say requirement) for virtual therapy has increased significantly over the past few weeks and our team has been busy talking with clients about their anxieties and offering our consultation to organizations as they navigate the very human side to all that is happening. However, if I can be honest with you for a minute, I've been feeling a lot of pressure to show up for folks in ways that don't make much sense during these uncertain times. Any time anxieties go up, everyone looks to psychologists to help them get their emotions back under control. Folks been lookin' at me like, "how you gonna fix this doc? " And while I want to help, the truth is, that your anxiety is supposed to go up when shi* hits the fan! Rona is serious and if you have anxiety about it, it likely just means your body is working as it should! Being a good psychologist isn't about protecting people from experiencing distressing feelings. It's actually about teaching folks to have appropriate reactions to life as it is happening. In this article I published on LinkedIn, I shared some common and very appropriate reactions you might experience given what is happening across the globe, and other reactions that might be concerning. In addition to that, what I can offer today are 3 things that I know for sure... #1) No one knows exactly how things will pan out or how this pandemic will alter our lives. However, research on the impacts of other natural disasters (including the SARS outbreak of 2002/2003) suggests that the trauma experienced can result in increased rates of depression, anxiety, family conflict, poor physical health, physical pain, and general unhappiness. #2) Despite the fact that point #1 really sucks, research also teaches us that these effects can be buffered by early interventions that facilitate a space for people to process what is happening, that increase social connection, and that increase traits such as resilience which have been proven to help people manage stressful circumstances in a way that turns them into developmental rather than debilitating experiences. Basically, this means your self-care habits today REALLY REALLY matter. They matter right now and they will matter years down the road when it comes to your overall happiness. Now is not the time to skimp on self-care! In fact, I'm writing you all a prescription to double down on self care. #3) We will be here for you. Right now it is normal for your emotions to be all over the place. It's normal for you to struggle finding a routine, and it's normal to have some anxiety. However, as the dust settles, if you find it hard to get your life back on track or if you notice your anxiety never subsides, we'll be here for you! Therapy works and people are remarkably capable of healing from even the most painful circumstances... and that won't change.
PS: Make sure to keep yourself up-to-date on recommendations concerning COVID-19 through credible sources. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are providing regular updates.