COVID-19 has begun to take over our lives in ways we could have never imagined. Life two weeks ago is much different than right now and it’s hard to know what to expect next. Chances are that things will get worse before they get better and that feels HARD. When something new happens in our lives and we have never dealt with it before we can expect to have an array of emotions. Everything from fear, anxiety, uncertainty, vulnerability, grief, depression are all normal parts of this process. I don’t know what will happen with this situation but I do know when we name what is happening to us it helps us from becoming fully consumed by it.
The other day I packed up a few last things from my office to prepare to work from home I found myself overwhelmed with grief and sadness. I love what I do and the safe space that my office represents for all of you. I allowed myself to burst into tears and called someone close to me to talk about it. That was not the first time I felt overwhelmed by emotions around COVID-19 and it will not be the last. We do not need to be normal when nothing is normal right now. I encourage all of you to let yourself feel what is coming up and if possible talk to someone about it. Journaling is a great alternative if you are alone right now. And please know I am always here.
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The top three things I would recommend practicing right now are things most of you have heard me mention before. Remember these are a practice and if you are new to them they may feel difficult at first.
1. Develop a mindfulness practice. The best definition I’ve ever heard of mindfulness is “paying attention.” When you find your mind racing gently remind yourself to come back to the room you are in. What is the temperature, lighting, smell? What do you hear, see and feel? You can enhance your ability to do this by meditating as well, but finding more mindful moments is a good place to start. The majority of our depression and anxiety stems from the past and the future.
2. Start a gratitude journal. Start with 3-5 things that you are grateful for each day and see how much easier this becomes even after a week or two. By writing these down and practicing consistently we train our brains to notice things we are grateful for throughout the day. Our brains are wired with a negativity bias and this really helps to counteract that.
3. Watch your “diet.” I don’t mean what you are eating, although that would likely help too. I mean watch what you are consuming. Is it serving you to be on social media or watching the news for hours on end? How do you feel when you do that? Which conversations leave you feeling great and which ones spike more fear and uncertainty? See if you can pay better attention to what is serving you and what is not – and make changes accordingly.
We WILL get through this, although things will never be quite the same. I do feel hopeful that this experience will be one that bonds us together – something that everyone is experiencing across the entire world. We are wired for connection and now we all realize the power of it. Never again will we take for granted a hug, handshake or kiss. Never again will we take for granted having coffee with a friend, attending a football game or seeing a movie. I believe wholeheartedly that we will have become more like the people we wanted to be. The support I’ve seen throughout this community thus far is amazing and everyday we are realizing we cannot get through this alone.