While it has gone by quickly for some, slowly for others, and somehow both for many, it has been a year since lockdowns for COVID-19 first began. After a year of change and adversity it’s time to take stalk of how we are taking care of ourselves, how we have adapted, and how we have grown. Last year renowned trauma researcher and author Dr. Bessel van der Kolk offered his advice on how we may foster our resilience during the pandemic outbreak:
Create predictability in unpredictable circumstances.
There are elements of life we cannot predict, but there are ways to increase predictability within our day-to-day through routines and schedules. Working on a regular sleep schedule, eating at regular times, and creating routine can help us better face unpredictable moments. In addition, scheduling fun things in advance gives us something to look forward to. Put a facetime or phone call with friends or a loved one on your calendar, plan a virtual game night after a long week, or block off some time in your weekend to indulge in your favorite new show or game.
Move your body to keep from feeling stuck.
When situations become overwhelming it’s a natural response for human beings to feel frozen or stuck. But it’s important to find ways that we can move and take action for our physical and emotional wellbeing. For those who are interested, getting outdoors, hiking, running, biking, may be a great way to get moving. And for those of us who prefer not to face the winter weather of Maine, online exercise classes and videos, dancing, yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises may be preferable.
Grow connection in times of isolation.
While we generally must stay apart from one-another physically to stay safe, finding creative ways to maintain contact is a great way to cope with isolation. Phone-calls and video-calls when possible are particularly powerful. Connecting with others can help us to regulate our own emotions. To help feel more connected we can check-in with close others, have meals together over video-calls, and play online games together. If this is an area you’re struggling with, resources like the USM Counseling Center may be able to help by connecting you to appropriate groups or resources.
Find ways to feel in-touch with yourself and your body.
Feeling numb or spacing out is a natural response to overwhelming distress. To work through these feelings, it’s important we find ways to feel in touch with ourselves and our bodies. One way to do this is through engaging in hobbies you enjoy, or if you’re interested, practicing meditation or yoga. Dr. van der Kolk also imparts the importance of learning how to notice ourselves, notice how we are feeling and what is going on for us internally. Ways to practice doing this include mindfulness practices, journaling, and counseling. It is also helpful to share with close and safe others how we are doing, as it can help us practice putting to words what we are experiencing.