Reflections of a Therapist-Uncertainty and Change
“How are you feeling?”
I’m not used to getting asked that question often as a therapist. I had to stop and think. To give you some context, a fellow Wellness Practitioner and I were talking about the recent circumstances with the Coronavirus, and she asked me this question.
I have been reasonably calm throughout this. I’ve taken precautions, my hands are a little dry of how much I’ve washed them, and I am forever working on not touching my face, but something does feel unsettling. Social distancing (I don’t like this term, distancing I get, but I think being social and connected from a distance is so important right now) is really difficult for me. I’m used to being busier, more preoccupied, always talking to someone or working on the next idea or project. But now things have slowed down, and I’m more or less confined to my home.
So it got me thinking, maybe this restlessness is telling me something. What if I use this distancing as a time for reflection, practice slowing down, and re-assess my routine/schedule/self care? I think the restlessness is also due to lack of structure and being uncertain about what my day looks like, or what might happen next. I’m waiting to see whether I’ll be working from home or not and in what capacity. I don’t have to be up at a specific time, or have mealtimes set around my work schedule.
There are many ways to work on managing uncertainty and change, particularly around a pandemic. I’ve been reflecting on my own process through all this, and thought I’d share, in case it’s helpful for others.
Slowing down- This is probably the hardest step for me. Stopping and noticing what I’m feeling and thinking, WITHOUT trying to do anything about it. Just noticing, with curiosity. Tense muscles, restless, frustrated, uneasy stomach. Thoughts: How long is this going to go on? When can I leave the house? What’s my day going to look like? Oh, god I just sneezed, what does that mean? Are any of us going to get it? What would we do next?
Reflecting- What can I control now? How have I been spending my time lately? Work? Social life? Exercise? Healthy eating? Spirituality? What do I do with my down time? Instagram? Facebook? Netflix? Read? Art? Writing?
What are some small positive changes I can start making with the time I have now? Re-introduce an old hobby? Go for morning walks? Plan my meals?
Developing a routine- Establishing some routine, and healthy habits during times of uncertainty is important. Developing my routine for the next couple of days is a work in progress…
Connecting- Connecting with others is essential. Especially when we are uncertain about the future and feel worried or anxious, and sometimes our thoughts are running with “what ifs”. Having supportive people to connect with validates our collective experience of uncertainty during these times and grounds us. It also serves as a distraction from the ongoing information and news that can get overwhelming. Having a sense of community and mutual support is really important for my well-being, and my inability to be out and about definitely hinders that.
So what have I done so far? Messaged friends and colleagues to check in, engaged with fellow wellness practitioners on Instagram, spent time with family, called friends and sent them memes.
What are other ways to connect? Face-timing friends with kids and offering to do an activity or read a book to give them a little break, calling family overseas…let me know if you have any ideas.
I’ll keep you posted on how this plays out for me! Writing it out was definitely helpful and gave me some clarity in the midst of all this uncertainty and change. Let me know if you find any of this helpful or get a chance to give it a shot!
NB. This is not reflective of everyone’s experience. The current circumstances may result in intense anxiety, serious mental health concerns, and put people in vulnerable positions in the case of illness or abuse. If this is the case, please look into mobile/online resources mentioned below.
Ottawa Distress Centre
24/7 Distress line
Big White Wall
Online peer-to-peer support community for mental health
Youth Services Bureau
24/7 crisis line and chat services for youth under 18 and their families
(613) 260-2360 or 1-877-377-7775
Some walk-in counselling sites will be offering phone sessions,
however it varies from site to site and as things progress, so it’s
best to call in and ask.