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Coping During COVID-19: Contemplations From Your Friendly Therapist

I’m about five weeks into seeing my clients via video (maybe more, maybe less, honestly I’m losing track!). I’ve observed some themes throughout my sessions; it’s interesting when all of your clients suddenly have the same topic to talk about! I’ve always been grateful for my job and haven’t taken it for granted. But the last few weeks especially have been an absolutely joy and I’m very aware of the privilege I have of walking along side people during this pandemic. I’ve gotten to meet with a kid in her fort she built in her room, I’ve met family pets, brainstormed with stressed-out moms, supported grocery store workers and hospital staff, listened to how people are getting creative about celebrating their birthdays, meanwhile validated everyone about every little thing they are feeling right now. Plus, I’ve had the little extra bonus of being able to use my standing desk more and get a much-welcomed break from all the sitting.

I’ve noticed we all seem to be vacillating between various levels of feeling productive and positive, and then the pendulum swings leaving us feeling discouraged, unmotivated, and really sad and scared. We are also collectively feeling really grateful for what we have, but the lack of timeline to get back to “normal” is really starting to take its toll. During this challenging and trying time, I’d recommend coming up with a solid self-care plan and reach out for support if needed.

I’ve compiled a little list of self-care strategies to implement during this time. It’s a good time to get back to the basics!

- Establish a routine. It doesn’t have to be extremely details. And if you are too strict about it with your kids, that will probably not go over well. Maybe try having a basic outline for morning, afternoon, and evening.

- Drink water, practice good sleep hygiene, and eat nutritious food. You’ll feel so much more alert and less foggy-headed.

- Still get ready for the day (as I’m sitting in my workout clothes right now, ha! I could really get used to this.) I’ve seen all the memes about pajamas, and find them all hilarious, but you know what I’m talking about. There’s just something confidence-boosting about being showered, groomed, and dressed.

- Notice little positives throughout the day. Guys, I found a four-leaf clover, and it made my day!

- Go outside for fresh air, every single day. This may be more challenging depending on your living situation and location. At least open a window if possible.

- Move! Outdoor exercise if possible, but now’s a good time to try a YouTube workout video, or have a dance party with your family.

- Stay informed – but don’t obsessively watch the news. Snack on the news; don’t stuff yourself.

- Get creative, do art, journal, craft your heart out, meditate, say a little prayer, practice your downward dog.

- Stay social in any way possible, but also get quality alone time if you can (parents especially!)

- Set aside some time to get on the floor and play with your kids. I was recently playing dolls with my three-year-old, and she had one of the dolls say, “Here, we need to wash the germs off the table.” I didn’t even know she knew the word ‘germs’! It really surprised me to see that theme come through in her play.

- If you can, find a way to give back to your community.

Above all, be patient, gracious and accepting with yourself and others. COVID-19 has been bringing out the best in us at times, but the weight of it is exhausting. There will be days when none of these ideas seem doable and accessible. Remember, you’re not alone, and we will get through this. Take care of yourself, and reach out for support when needed!

Heather Lokteff, LPC

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