After almost three years…Some suggestions
It is hard to believe it is getting close to 3 years since the Covid-19 pandemic started. As I don’t have any new client opening most of the time, at least I would like to share my thoughts around the “mental health crisis”.
As a mental health counselor/art therapist, as well as a person on the planet earth, I have been working through this difficult time just like you, your family members and friends. I know it is not always easy. The below are very simple suggestions that I would like to make to help you feel OK.
We have been traumatized. There have been so many things we can be fearful about in the world. Unfortunately, fearfulness itself creates more fear. So how can we shake off some of these fearful things?
- Acknowledge that things are sometimes unpleasant (sad, scary and annoying) and we are OK to feel those emotions. We don’t have quick and happy endings all the time. Validate your and your loved ones’ unpleasant emotions. You may not have solutions to change those feelings, but once you feel and accept those emotions it is easier to let yourself come back to here and now. We live right now, not in the past, regretting what we did not achieve. Worrying about things that have not happened yet does not change your future. Pay attention to when you feel happy, and what helps you to feel that way, such as warm sunshine, or watching joyful moments with your loved ones, including pets.
- Mindful Way Work book is a good place to start.
- Limit your online time. This is very important and it includes your streaming time, and playing time with video games. Our brains are overloaded and overstimulated. This stimulation is reinforced by the flood of information and we feel like we can’t live without the internet. Remember, people were able to live without the internet and social media once upon the time. Reducing the time you spend with your cell phone gives you more time to do other relaxing or entertaining things and you should be more able to fall asleep naturally.
- Dr. Cathy Malchiodi and Dr. Elizabeth Warson, my mentors in the expressive art therapy field, encourage us to move, sing and express ourselves in creative ways.
Walk in nature and use all your senses; right now, you may smell the dry leave and ripening berries and rain. Listen to nature, birds singing, water dripping. Observe and notice what is there. You may notice animal tracks, wet bright colored leaves, something you usually don’t pay attention to. You may take a small, unprocessed food item and eat it as if you have not eaten it before. Of course if you know about berries you find in nature, you may pick one and taste it. Your skin is the largest organ in your body; you can feel the wind, rain and temperature changes and use all your senses.
Now you continue to walk in the natural place. Pay attention to feel the gravity. Pretend to be held by the mother Earth. Imagine your feet are glued on the ground. You may feel the texture of the ground; sandy, muddy, gravely. Pay attention to your body. Do you feel any tension in your body? Please try to feel it. Then take a deep breath. A wonderful book about relaxing breath exercise is:
Breath :New Science of lost Art
Keep walking, keep feeling, using all the senses and feeling your body. You might want to investigate movement exercises demonstarated by Donna Eden in her Youtube video , Energy Work.
You can listen to music and move/dance. You may meditate. You can enjoy playing with your pets.
Please remember that it took us near 3 years to feel how we do, so be patient and kind with yourself.