I figured my first blog post would be an inspirational meme (not to worry that will come soon), but I feel a part of me that has a strong need to connect with others who are in pain right now. Whether it be those in the community, colleagues, those under supervision, first responders, (the list goes on), and just say, it’s okay … it’s okay, not to know what to do. If possible, step back and give yourself space and permission to be scared, angry, lost, and confused. All of this is a typical response to a very chaotic, atypical time. No one is taught how to deal with this.
Whether you are an experienced clinician, doctor, or whatever your profession, there is always a “crisis plan.” That plan is typically based on a set of circumstances that well, horrific are somewhat known. Although, (not comparable) but, for example a school shooting or if a financial institution is ‘hacked’, we have plans of action to take in critical situations such as these. We know what to say and do, and there are steps to be taken in the community and with the government. Traditionally, these events do not stop the entire world even in their horrific nature. Again, our entire world as we know it has been put on pause. Everyone and everything. It’s okay not to know what to do.
However, there are some things we can do to promote a sense of stability and decrease the anxiety around us:
- Limit your exposure to the news. I know it can be easier said then done as it is everywhere! The inaccurate information vs. the accurate, alone is overwhelming. Trying to decompress and be in quarantined environments makes reaching out to others and the world tempting. So, my thought is moderation. Perhaps, try not completely closing off to the news, but instead just take it in short intervals. These would even include short bursts of discussions regarding what you saw on the news or on social media. When it becomes overwhelming, turn it off, take a walk, engage in activities that are calming and relaxing.
- Find a buddy. Find a friend or relative that you can discuss concerns with that leaves you feeling less anxious (mutually). If you find yourself more anxious, angry, stressed, or irritated after talking to a particular person about difficult feelings surrounding your concerns this won’t bring the anxiety and stress relief you are seeking typically. Alternatively, if you do not have the option of someone to speak to you could try journaling, blogging, online support groups (if unable to leave your home at the moment) or doing voice recordings.
- A creative, productive outlet. Research shows that one of the most successful ways to alleviate depressed mood and stress is to invest time in a creative project. Finding time to do things around the house or starting a project might assist in a corrective mood state.
- Be authentic. It’s not possible to highlight this one enough. Again, no one has the answers and no one has to be perfect. These are unprecedented times we are in. If possible, give yourself and those around you, compassion, space and time.
Yes, this will end as all things do. There will be healing that needs to happen. For now, be patient and go easy on yourself and others where possible. Reach out for help if needed. Inhale. Exhale.