By Cassidy Duhadway, LCSW
One of the most important things for humans is connection. Belonging to a group and being connected to them helps us live longer, be healthier, and have more happiness. Being told to separate ourselves from others can cause harm to our physical and mental wellbeing, as individuals and as a society. It goes against our instincts and desires. It can breed loneliness and fear of other people.
Some of the physical and psychological effects of social distancing may include:
- Feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and hopelessness
- Diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular diseases
- Anxiety, social anxiety, and depression
- Grief and complicated grief
- PTSD, trauma, and stress
- Fear of others or diseases
Dealing with these effects, recovering from this pandemic, and healing from it is going to take work, both collectively and individually. We will recover, we will move through this. It will be essential we do so in a way that allows for mental wellness and healing.
RESILIENCE IS THE CAPACITY TO RECOVER FROM DIFFICULT THINGS.
Building your resilience will enable you to recover quicker. However, it is not as easy as just saying, “I got this” and “I’m going to get over it,” it requires action. To allow our whole self to heal, we need to do the mental, physical, and spiritual work. As we improve, we can bring our families and communities with us.
“WAIT… IF THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO DO, THEN HOW DO I DO THAT?”
The short answer? Through hard work. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can achieve overnight. It’s something we have to practice over and over again as we build our skills and resilience.
AWARENESS AND SELF-COMPASSION
Becoming aware of our body, reactions, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and how we are actually doing is mandatory for having more choice and control in our lives. But, awareness in and of itself is hard to learn how to do. Do we know how our bodies and minds react to each other? Do we have an inner critic that is always in charge and shaming us? Having an awareness of these things allows us to start to have control over what is going on internally.
The KEY here is self-compassion — learning to be aware of what is going on in the moment — understanding what is going on and being kind to ourselves in our suffering. Self-compassion means allowing ourselves to be human, struggle, suffer, and to grieve without judgment or expectation. Self-compassion and awareness are the foundations for building resilience and healing.
This is more than pedicures, massages and working out (although those are great). It’s the simple things we do every day to take care of ourselves, to improve our mental and physical well being. It’s important to look at everything we are doing for self-care; if we are hyper-focused on one or two specific things, we are not taking care of our whole selves.
How we practice self-care looks different for everybody. Some ideas might include:
- Moving your Body
- Eating Food
- Going to Therapy
- Turning off Screens
- Taking a Break or Going Outside
Self-care can be a struggle. For some, there is an underlying belief that we need to serve others before we take care of ourselves; that behavior is harmful. When we ignore our self-care or put it last, we have less ability to support and help those around us. If we continue to give, when we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we experience increased rates of physical and mental illness.
Currently, our community is experiencing a considerable amount of anxiety, panic, and fear. Learning mindfulness will help counteract those feelings and help us to shift our focus away from unhealthy worry over what is happening and what might happen.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present, of dealing only with what is going on right now. It is learning to allow whatever it is, regardless, without judgment. It’s connected to self-compassion, decreased anxiety and stress, and an improved state of mind.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Engaging and connecting with others will always be important to humans, but it is especially crucial to surviving and healing. The way we connect might not always be ideal and may be difficult, especially with the added fear of getting sick. Finding ways to connect virtually or learning how to reconnect is a vital part of the healing process.
The last several months have been trying and stressful for many of us. If you are struggling, that’s ok. Know that what you are experiencing is a NORMAL reaction to an ABNORMAL event. You will get through this.
Please know this is NOT something most of us can do on our own. Getting support and help from friends, family or a professional during these times will help us build resilience, survive, and heal as individuals and communities.
Cassidy Duhadway, LCSW, is the founder of Purple Sky Counseling in Heber. She specializes in women’s issues, trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, C-PTSD, low self-esteem, children and teens, life transitions, negative self-talk, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, faith transitions, and LGBTQIA.