4 Coping Skills Therapists are Sharing During COVID-19
As therapists during this time, we are walking with our clients through many new and challenging experiences. Grief, uncertainty, fear, and many other things are coming up for all of us. We are navigating life changes, big and small, that we never expected and we aren't exactly sure what life will look like on the other side of all of this.
As a counseling practice, we believe that we can learn skills that help improve our quality of life and mental health. We value being able to bring skills and information, as well as support, into our sessions. Here are 4 helpful skills we have been sharing with our clients as they are coping with life changes related to coronavirus:
We love the work of Dr. Kristen Neff for all things self-compassion. Neff talks about how the top 3 components of self-compassion are mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness. A way to practice self-compassion during these times, especially for those of us who are more physically isolated from others, is engaging in self-soothing touch. If we physically embrace ourselves with a hug or give ourselves a soothing hand/foot rub, our bodies can receive the benefits of our physical touch needs.
For more on this, visit https://self-compassion.org
2. Relationship Skills
We are all experiencing changes in our relationships right now. Some of us are feeling more isolated, some of us are spending amounts of time with people we are not used to, and conflict is inevitably showing up in relationships during these times of change. One of the most important things to know about skills when it comes to relationships… is that they can be learned! Taking the time to learn how to word messages, what default behaviors we engage in that aren’t as helpful, and other things can make all the difference in cultivating healthy relationships.
For more on this, we recommend The Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com
TGI also has a podcast with brief 3 minute episodes called “Small Things Often” to learn more about relationship skills.
3. Coping with anxiety
As a practice that loves utilizing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a go-to skill for managing anxiety or difficult/unhelpful thoughts is defusion. The idea of defusion is to separate ourselves from unhelpful and/or uncomfortable thoughts or symptoms by naming them and using language and imagery.
For example: Someone practicing defusion might say things like “my anxiety is really trying to pull me into a negative spiral right now.” This allows for space to step back from the experience and give it less power.
For more tips on this, visit our Instagram page @greendoortherapy to view a couple of Instagram TV episodes where Green Door Co-Founders Bridget and Brooke talk about how they use this skill. Bridget talks about her anxiety bird and Brooke talks about her sucky superhero.
Also, don’t forget… our brains are often trying to protect us when we experience anxiety and other uncomfortable emotions and symptoms.
For more on this: View this 3 minute video (The Happiness Trap: The Evolution of the Human Mind) and don’t forget to show your brain some compassion.
Whether you are using apps like Calm or Headspace… or even just trying to practice breathing a few times per day… the benefits of mindfulness are many during times of stress and change. Practicing getting out of our heads and into our bodies and environments can help with depression, anxiety, and provide calm. One way we love to practice mindfulness is my going on a mindful walk. During a mindful walk, you actively practice engaging with your 5 senses. You notice how the ground feels on your feet and how the wind feels on your skin. You smell grass and you listen for the sounds of lawnmowers, birds, and branches moving in the breeze. You may even stop to feel the bark on a tree and get up close to notice what the color, shape, and texture looks like.
A helpful tip: You can apply this “5 senses mindfulness” trick to anything. You can do this while sipping coffee, hugging someone, or taking a shower. Anything you do “mindfully” is mindfulness.
One last thing...
This brief animation by Russ Harris, the author of The Happiness Trap, is a great guide for coping with covid. FACE COVID- How to Respond Effectively to the Corona Crisis.
During times of change, loss, and uncertainty… it is normal for life to feel unmanageable at times. While we can’t change all of our circumstances, we can feel empowered to learn and practice skills that help our mental health and relationships.
Blog post written by Bridget Caragher, LCSW in collaboration with the members of Green Door Therapy Clinical Team.