This has been a very challenging time for individuals, families, parents, employees, business owners, public health workers…the list goes on and on. During this time, I have witnessed many clients, maintain a sense of humor, hope, and high productivity. Many, however, have seen an increase in anxiety, fear, and depression, and at times, even hopelessness. As a therapist and executive coach, I know all these responses to this unprecedented pandemic and social upheaval are within the normal range of human experience.
What I have found useful for my clients, of all ages and walks of life, is first and foremost to listen; to listen with openness and compassion and respect for the other person’s human experience. If nothing else, these times remind us that we all are human, we all suffer, and we all have worth and human dignity.
Here are some practical suggestions to help you, your loved ones and employees navigate, as successfully as possible, these challenging times:
1.) Keep your positivism high, but realistic. Realistic optimism tells us that we need to consider the practical realities and potential threats and dangers, along with our ability to overcome and even thrive, not just survive.
2.) Talk about these very real challenges human to human, manager to employee, parent to child, in age-appropriate language. With vulnerability and authenticity, we can help each other through this.
3.) Aim for life balance. Dr. Daniel Segal has a wonderful tool called “The Healthy Mind Platter” on his website, https://www.drdansiegel.com/. This tool extends the metaphor of a healthy platter of food. Dr. Segal suggests that we seek balance in our day to day life by including things like exercise, prayer/ meditation, meaningful work/volunteering, healthy food, time to do nothing, time for recreation, and time with others.
4.) Reach out for support. The term social distancing really is a misnomer. Those of us in helping professions know that social distancing in a pandemic is not healthy, but PHYSICAL DISTANCING is. Now more than ever, we need to reach out to our families, close friends, volunteer organizations, and faith groups. Do not be afraid or ashamed to reach out to a therapist, professional coach, or physician to help navigate the anxiety and depression, financial difficulties, and difficult choices we need to be making now.
5.) Acknowledge anxiety with acceptance and self- compassion. Anxiety is basically fear of the unknown and we are surrounded by the unknown right now! We do not know what it is going to take to turn our society in the direction away from systemic racism to a fully human respecting society. We do not know when it is going to be safe for kids and teachers to go back to school safely or when there will be a readily available proven vaccine.
6.) Consciously build your resilience. Resilience is not about bouncing back; it is about bouncing forward emerging from adversity with more capability, empowerment, and success. It is about doing what we need to do today so that we are creating the highest possibility for wellbeing going forward. Resilience is about digging deep, remembering the challenges we faced in the past and how we overcame them, and tapping into those same skills, abilities, and support systems that have served us well in the past. Resilience is not about hanging on for dear life. It is about facing, head on, something difficult, feeling that fear and worry, and choosing to face it anyway and do what needs to be done with realistic optimism.
Whether I am providing therapy for mental health issues, or working with my executive and career coaching clients, above are some of the practical strategies that clients find most helpful to navigate this difficult time. It is my hope, my prayer, and my belief that we will emerge stronger, but it is going to take time.
Call or email me for counseling or coaching. If your family, friend, or team needs support and practical strategies to navigate this time or communication skills to manage conflict that can occur during this stressful time, please reach out to me. I am offering all web-based counseling and coaching right now and it is working well.
Wishing you health and peace.