Over the past week, I’ve watched people’s reactions to COVID19. There’s been a spectrum of responses, spoken and unspoken. Individuals themselves even change their responses, creating their own unique spectrum.
All of this is understandable given the rapidly changing landscape of knowledge and numbers about the pandemic.
From a mental health perspective, it’s been utterly fascinating to observe. I’ve seen a variety of things I could comment on but I am going to keep this particular post about anxiety, given that’s the most common—and understandable—response.
I first want to underscore that any feelings you’re having are valid. Because they are feelings. And you have a right to them.
That said, anxiety is also an incredibly uncomfortable feeling and it can interfere with so many aspects of our lives: routines, relationships, decision-making, sleep, appetite…..just about everything.
And I know a lot of people are experiencing internal levels of discomfort right now. For some, they live pretty frequently in this internal discomfort; their anxiety is constantly humming along inside of them on a daily basis. For others, this internal discomfort isn’t completely foreign because it rears its head every so often, yet isn’t a daily lived experience. And for another subset of you, this is an unusual feeling.
What I would say to you no matter what subset you fall into is this: now is a good time for some therapy. Maybe you’ll become a long-term client, finding that you truly enjoy the therapeutic process and what it can offer. Or maybe you’ll participate for some brief, solution-focused sessions, to get some basic, but still critically helpful, techniques for your current emotional experience.
Either way, therapy can be a game-changer for times like these.
Therapy can help you learn some incredibly important tools for anxiety management and even help you find, then change, some core beliefs that may fuel that anxiety. A therapist can teach you calming techniques; how to use self-talk in times of indecision or unease; and distress tolerance. A therapist can help you uncover any events in your past that may be contributing to current emotions and then help you overcome those past events, especially if they were traumatic. A good therapist is going to help you implement all of this so it alleviates that discomfort now, during the coronavirus pandemic, but also so it helps you in the future, for whatever else will land on your doorstep.
“But what about staying quarantined as much as possible and reducing visits to public places?”-that’s a great question.
Here’s the answer: most therapists have the capacity to provide online sessions.
Which means you can still access a mental health professional while in the comfort and safety of your own home. Even better, a lot of insurance companies have made provisions to cover telehealth during the pandemic. So, if in the past you haven’t been able to use insurance to pay for telehealth sessions, you might be able to take advantage of that set up for now. And if you’re okay with paying out-of-pocket, then you can definitely find someone to work with.
The other point I have to make about therapy and taking advantage of it now is this: people are motivated. They really don’t like this feeling. They really don’t like seeing the distress their children are coming home from school with, after hearing something in the hallways or on the playground. They don’t like feeling out of control, they don’t like the sense of their cognitive, executive-functioning capacities going a little haywire right now. They don’t like how affected they feel once they read a comment or see another headline.
And as a therapist let me tell you this: that is an AMAZING time to get started in counseling. You’re ready to soak it up. You’re ready to spend time outside of session putting into action what you discussed during your session. You’re ready to challenge habits, push yourself to make new ones, and to not settle for functioning in the same, not-so-helpful manner as you have been. After nearly 10 years as a counselor, I can tell you that if you start now, during a motivated time, you’ll feel a positive impact on your day-to-day functioning likely pretty quickly.
Imagine, next time around, being able to manage internal discomfort; confidence in your decisions; partnering with others in a healthy way; and communicating your needs and thoughts in an assertive but respectful way. To me, that is a dream scenario for so many people. It has the capacity to make a difference. That opportunity for change is right there for the taking….will you take it?
My out-of-control comma use and I are going to head on out but quick recap:
whatever emotional experience you’re having right now is valid
anxiety is uncomfortable and you deserve to live a life that doesn’t have anxiety consistently hanging around
anxiety is a naturally occurring emotion so while COVID-19 may come and go, anxiety will come up again
therapy can be game-changing for you
therapy can be done online
motivation is a great driver for change so put it to use (one suggested way: starting therapy)
Tomorrow I am going to circle back to this topic with some suggestions for anxiety management that you can immediately start to implement. So stay tuned and please come back!
Marble Wellness is a St. Louis counseling practice that specializes in counseling for anxiety & stress, depression, and maternal mental health. If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website. If you have questions or would like to get started in working together in the therapy process, contact us today!