Pat Stepler, LMFT
How One Word Can Change Your Quarantine Life
Flashback, four months. The holiday season full of lights, sparkle, dinner parties, family gatherings, travel, presents, concerts, traditions, cheer, and hugs are wrapping up. It’s time to pause, reflect, and set intentions for the new year. People are choosing a word to kick off the new decade. Love, Family, Health, Openness, and Gratitude are selected. Hopes and intentions are set.
Now, enter unprecedented times, a world-wide pandemic, the new normal. Hopes and intentions are shifting. The world slows down, and daily life rapidly changes. Fear, Worry, Hardship, Sacrifice, Grief, Trauma become the new words. People wonder, “How do we live during the current state of affairs?”
A natural reaction to crisis is to escape with distractions, hide, and put up a false front. However, there is a different way to respond to collective trauma. Choose to endure, to withstand with courage. Three key ways to ENDURE the quarantine life with courage, bravery, and resiliency are: being present, create connection, and be authentic.
Being Present: Combat the desire to escape with distractions by deciding to show up every day. Fully engage your mind and body in the present moment. For 2 minutes, bring awareness to your breath. Pay attention to what you are feeling, thinking, and sensing in the moment. Remove the distractions, and observe your current surroundings. Let go of loss, frustration, fear, and worry. Focus on the now; focus on your breath.
Create Connection: Social distancing makes it easy to hide. This can lead to an increase in depression, anxiety, loneliness, and hopelessness. Attack the tendency to isolate by creating connection with nature and people. Get outside every day: notice the sky, feel the ground, smell the flowers, listen to the birds, acknowledge a neighbor. Call a family member, text a friend, set up an online chat, make thank you cards for essential workers, get creative in ways to connect, but keep reaching out.
Be Authentic: It’s easy to fall into the habit of “I’m fine, we’re fine, everything is fine”, or dismissing grief by only expressing gratitude. Now is the time to feel feelings, examine thoughts, become aware of triggers, and be honest about the physical, spiritual, and emotional stress you are under. Being authentic creates space to give and receive support, it allows acknowledgement of the ups, downs, and uncertainties, and it gives permission to be wholly human.
Quarantine is challenging.
Responding to trauma is brave.
We are all in this together, and
together we can endure hard things.
Pat Stepler, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Empire Therapy & Family Services. She is currently offering Telehealth services to help her clients build courage, be brave, and endure hard things.
Pat can be reached at (805) 765-2873 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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