You know what I love? Control. There, I said it. I love being in control. I thrive on predictable circumstances, plot lines and consistency. I live my life by plans and to-do lists, color-coding the different aspects of my world, trying to get things into a perfect balance. I know what you’re thinking, “Man, she’s probably super Type A! How is she a warm, compassionate therapist if she is so rigid?!”
Fair. However, I think most of my clients would argue that in therapy I am the opposite of rigid. I am free flowing, light-hearted and bubbly. Why? Because my Passion Planner and the way I have organized my life gives me containment I need to move beyond my Type A ways in other parts of my life. Things were going great up until two months ago when the Safer at Home policies were implemented, my favorite restaurants shut down, and I was told that I couldn’t be around my friends. I panicked. No, for real. The therapist had a melt down.
Thank goodness I did. During these last two months, my routines, my structure and self-care have all been tested, as has everyone else’s. Throughout my years in graduate school and internships I had professors and supervisors tell me how therapy was a parallel process- you were going to help your clients and they were going to help you. I used to roll my eyes when I was a newbie therapist and think there’s no way that’s the case. They won’t help me. They are coming to me for help. PSYCH! I have never found this sentiment to be more true than during this global pandemic. My clients and I have been on an interesting journey together the last eight weeks- sharing virtual space, offering support, laughter, and combining forces to think about how we can all deal with uncertain times. I hope you’ll join me as I share the top five things that I have learned and taught:
- Schedule in Self-Care
Yes, I am the therapist that is going to preach self-care until I am blue in the face. I’m going to do so because I know how vital it is to not only your survival but to those around you as well. I want you to take a moment and think if you have done anything today that solely benefits you- that builds you up, energizes you, or allows you slow your mind down. If not, then Houston, we have a problem.
All my clients will tell you that one of the first things I do when we start our work together is talk about self-care routines and it is something that I have been asking each client every week during this pandemic. Why? Because all of us are dealing with so much more than we were before. Between working from home, home schooling our kids, checking in on family members, and doing all of this confined in four walls, we are bound to lose our marbles at some point. That’s ok. Scheduling in your self-care can help to push back, or even prevent, the break down.
So how about before you keep reading, you whip out your planner or open up the calendar on your phone, and schedule in your self-care for each day this week. Give it a go and notice how the world will not only keep spinning during these moments, but your world will seem a little brighter and healthier.
- Monitor Your Intake of the News
Welcome back! Before I told you go to your calendar to write in your self-care, I should have added in another thing to schedule time for- the news. Ahh yes, the thing everyone could go on and on about right now. So many of us are guilty of leaving it on in the background, having notifications light up our phones, and experience a slight twitch every time “Breaking News,” comes across our screens.
Times are stressful right now, folks. You don’t need your favorite news anchor adding to that throughout your day. Be intentional on setting aside time to catch up on the headlines and then be done. This prevents secondary trauma and allows you to stay focused on what’s in front of you and what is in your direct control.
- Recognize What is Within Your Control
Wow, love how that seamlessly brought me to my next point. In case you haven’t realized this yet, you can’t control the president, the governor, mayor, neighbor, or even your friends. Not now. Not ever. Trust me, this makes me shudder as much as you. However, acknowledging and leaning into that can also provide you with some much-needed relief. The fate of the world is in not in your hands. You are only responsible for controlling what is directly in front of you.
In talking with my clients about this, we came up with a list of what we can control. Small as they may seem, they are little moments we can relish right now as uncertainty swirls around us. Making our bed, folding clothes, picking out what we will eat, what kind of workout we do, when we will wake up, who we will talk to that day—all things we can directly control. If it helps, make your own list and refer back when you are feeling queasy due to a lack of control.
- Move Your Body
Hey, look! Moving your body could count as self-care, something that is in your control, and likely a time when you’re not watching the news. I love efficiency, don’t you? Before I dive into this topic, I want to emphasize that I am not telling you to train for a marathon, become a body builder, or decide that you will become an Olympic athlete. I am just telling you to move your body on the most basic level.
Think about what your body needs right now. Are you sitting more? Sitting less? Are you feeling like you’re running yourself ragged trying to get everything done and be everything to everyone? Then yoga and meditation might be the best combo for you. Do you feel like you are going stir crazy and like all the emotions are running rampant through your body? Try some cardio- running, dancing, or even jumping jacks can help to get it all out.
I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but exercise stimulates blood flow, which increases energy, improves your mood (hi, endorphins), and gets you back to remembering you are in your body.
While we can’t be with all the people we love, we do get to be with ourselves every day so let’s do what we can to make our internal home happy and healthy.
- Stay Connected
Last, but certainly not least, stay connected. One thing I am eternally grateful for is technology. It is allowing me to see my clients, my family, and my friends right now. I know, it isn’t the same as being in person but it is better than nothing. Think about all the things you used to do with your peeps and get creative on how to make that a virtual experience.
Then, document it! As hard as it is to be living in this “new normal,” we have to remember that this won’t go on forever and that as we get older, our kids and grandkids will ask what it was like. Document it so you can show it off.
Lastly, stay connected to your community. Whether that’s shopping local, indulging in #TakeOutTuesday to help your favorite spots, or supporting the seniors in your community, do what you can to remember that there is life moving outside your four walls and invest in the people and businesses that you want to be there when this is all over.
I know that times are challenging right now. I know that there is a ton of uncertainty, stress, sadness, loss, and frustration swirling around in the world. Taking all of that on though is not your job. Do what you can to find the small simple joys in your daily life and remind yourself that this is all temporary.
For those of you who don’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and many individuals are dealing with feelings that are new to them. Seek out support as needed.
If you are feeling suicidal, please call 9-1-1, go to your nearest Emergency Room, call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text GO to 741-741.
I know it is cliché to say, but we will get through this together.
Hi! My name is Marina. I am a twenty-something therapist living in a plugged-in world, with a pressure to do it all, all while trying to stay sane. I recognize that the twenties and entering in adulthood can be both a trying and exciting time. Because of that, I want to use both my clinical and real-life education to provide support for those out there that are trying to figure out how to make it in the real world. In my practice, I love working with this demographic because of the amount of opportunities and possibilities available. I am fortunate to have the unique ability of being able to relate to individuals living in this decade on a real level and provide tangible support and tools. When I am not talking to someone in my office, I love talking to large groups of people, providing presentations at schools, community organizations, and businesses on topics ranging from teens and technology to work-life balance. Additionally, I serve on the board of a non-profit organization, The Seeking Light Foundation, where we provide education, support, and advocacy for individuals directly impacted by mental illness and their loved ones. I am thrilled to learn more about the readers of The Daily Feels and help each other figure out this crazy and exciting time of life together!