Self Care to Manage Emotions
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
In this edition of self care I welcome a guest, Allie Devney, a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, with Minnesota Clinic for Health and Wellness in New Brighton. In this post Allie speaks to the extra amount of emotions we are dealing with in this on-going time of social distancing. Currently every one of us is faced with new challenges and limitations presenting lots of new emotions to process. An important part of our self care is finding a way to process this in a healthy way.
While social distancing is protecting us from the spread of physical illness, our mental and emotional health is suffering. As humans we are created for connection; some of us are extroverts and thrive off the energy of others. Introverts, another group of the population, need more alone time to reflect and recharge. However, regardless of where each of us falls on the introversion-extroversion scale, we are all impacted by COVID-19. As a therapist, I talk with people daily about how they are dealing with our current state and the stresses it brings. While there are many commonalities to the thoughts and emotions we are experiencing, there are unique challenges and worries that correspond to age and life stage. For example, young children may be feeling the stress from adults around them but do not fully understand what is happening, teenagers may be dealing with the disappointment and isolation of not being able to see their friends, and parents of school age children may be finding it difficult to balance homeschooling and also trying to work from home.
Older adults, too, are facing their own unique challenges that Rita and I thought may be helpful to address. Perhaps some of you are in full caregiver mode, trying to take care of aging parents, as well as helping out children and grandchildren. I would imagine that with the new protocols in place, many of you are not able to visit your loved ones as you normally would. You may be worrying about their health and well-being (in addition to your own) as well as feeling sadness and guilt about not seeing them in person. Additionally, some of you are adjusting to working from home and all the stressors that go along with that, such as being isolated from coworkers and difficulty staying focused. Or maybe you have been laid-off, furloughed, or your job is in jeopardy and you are dealing with worries of the unknown. Still others of you may be retired but are unable to engage in the activities that help you stay healthy and bring meaning to your lives. Not being able to attend your morning coffee group, see your children and/or grandchildren, or go to your weekly massage therapy appointment with Rita may be leaving you feeling sad, lonely, stressed, hopeless, and in pain.
One important truth to keep in mind during this time of unknown is that no feelings are wrong or bad. Try not to shame yourself for the many emotions that you are experiencing. For example, while you may know that it is important to social distance at this time, you may feel sad and even have some guilt about not seeing or taking care of your loved ones as you normally would. Instead of telling yourself to "just suck it up", acknowledge your feelings and have patience and compassion for yourself as you navigate this unprecedented time. Stay connected with people that make you feel good about yourself and take time to engage in activities daily that bring you joy. Even a ten minute walk outside, engaging in a religious or spiritual practice, or a quick phone call to a friend can help us reset, ground ourselves, and give us the energy we need to be there for those we care about.
Additionally, now is a time when many of us are in need of a little extra support to process our complex thoughts, emotions, and experiences. I know that there is a misconception that therapy is only meant for those experiencing severe mental health symptoms, but in reality, anyone can benefit from therapeutic services. As I mentioned previously, we all need connection and therapy provides just that- a safe and supportive environment to gain a better understanding of yourself, so you can cope with the challenges in your life. Many therapists, including myself, are providing telehealth therapy during this time. While you may have reservations about telehealth specifically, I have found that it can actually be less daunting than in-person services as you are able to meet in the comfort of your own home. Additionally, some of my clients find it easier to share more freely when I am not sitting directly across from them. Regardless of your personal thoughts on telehealth vs. in person therapy, I would highly encourage you to reach out for support. I currently have openings as do other therapists at our clinic. If you would like to learn more about the clinic and our various services you can visit our website at https://mnclinicforhealth.com/. To schedule an appointment you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our front desk at 612-706-9630.