How to Take Care of Yourself Like a Pro
Since the COVID-19 global health crisis became an official pandemic in March 2020, people all over the United States have experienced intense stress, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, depression, despair and a sense of hopelessness. From job losses to the death of loved ones, people have had to deal with an incredible amount of difficulty. On June 25, the Houston Business Journal interviewed faculty at the Menninger Clinic on this topic. The therapists at the clinic stated that the number one difficulty their clients face today is a loss of connectedness. Here are some tips on how to care for yourself like a therapist would care for you so that you can rebuild a sense of connectedness with your friends, family, community and most importantly, yourself.
Increase Opportunities for Verbal Communication
Talking is at the core of connectedness. Many people sought therapy for the first time during the pandemic. However, for health reasons, many therapists switched to a telehealth model. While that allowed people to get the care they need, it also reduced the ability for people to have a more thorough therapeutic experience. Observation of body language and physical proximity are important cues in interpersonal relationships. One way you can feel more connected is by increasing your opportunities to practice verbal communication. Instead of texting your friend, give them a call. Rather than emailing a coworker, set up a video chat. Skip the neighborhood message board. Walk over to your neighbor and chat, even if you need to be six feet apart and wearing masks.
Find a Safe Space to Get Help
If you do need therapy, make sure you feel comfortable with the location where you're receiving services. The convenience of telehealth can't be overlooked. You don't have to leave your home, unless you want to. For example, if you no longer feel attracted to your spouse, and your marriage is on the rocks emotionally, you might not feel comfortable talking about this if your spouse is just one room away from you. Even if you turn on a fan or white noise machine, you may be worried about whether or not they can hear what you're telling your therapist. Go sit in your car. Take a walk to the park, and do your telehealth session there. You may be able to reserve a private study room at the library. Drive to a school parking lot, sit on the playground and log into your telehealth session in privacy.
Practice Patience With Yourself
Therapists are trained to be patient. Some of their clients may take months or even years to get at the heart of what bothers them. Give yourself this same patience. If you're hurting, don't expect it to go away after a week or a month. Whether or not you're in therapy, resolving your feelings of loss, abandonment, stress, heartache, despair, frustration or rage can take a while. When you make it over an obstacle, celebrate the event. Perhaps each time you catch yourself not being patient and you correct your behavior, you get an extra five minutes in the shower. Maybe for each time you avoid turning to cigarettes or alcohol for relief from your stress, you get to watch another episode of your favorite show.
Maintain a Routine
Structure and routine are important when you're suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. If you're working from home, do your work in a different place from where you prefer to relax. Even if you have a small home or apartment, setting up a designated work area and only using it for work will signal to your brain when you're working and when it's time to take a break or end for the day. Maintaining a routine that includes making nutritious meals, exercising, sleeping, personal hygiene and connecting with others will also improve your mood.
Show Yourself the Same Compassion You Show Others
Many people are much harder on themselves than they are on others. If you're your own worst critic, show yourself some compassion. Did you accidentally delete one of the key tables in your relational database? Take a breather. Someone else has probably done the same thing, and someone will do it again. Make a plan to correct the action, but don't dwell on it. The ability to admit your mistake and own it will go a long way in helping you recognize that you're a person, too.
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