By Jasmine Payne, HMT Resident in Counseling
There is so much going on right now and so much of it is out of our control. This is an unprecedented time and situation. Many of us are faced with trying to figure out what a new normal looks like. The most important thing to remember is there is no wrong way to feel right now. It is okay to be overwhelmed, uncertain, afraid, upset, or sad.
Things are changing each day as this situation continues to develop, and society is doing its best to adapt and stay ahead. There is no rule book for how to live during a pandemic. On top of messages about how to handle COVID-19, we are also being inundated with memos about how self-care, staying healthy and calm, and keeping our houses in order. Some of these messages are coming from educated places that are concerned with our well-being, but others are damaging ideas where the underlying motivation comes from guilt or shame.
How do we know what advice to follow?
By looking into what we can control, we can figure out how to spend this time in a way that works best for us.
Peace of mind means different things to different people. The key here is to identify practices that work for you. These can be activities like physical exercise and journaling or quality time with family and checking things off your to-do list. Once you have brainstormed ideas that bring you joy, happiness, or relief it’s time to create a routine that incorporates these things. It does not matter what your quarantine routine looks like, it is okay if it varies day to day, or if you don’t get through everything on your list each day; creating a loose schedule for yourself while we are practicing social distancing can help keep your mind active and engaged. It can also help kickstart a sense of purpose or direction in this uncertain time.
Bottom line: Include some of those activities that bring positive feelings into your life!
This downtime can bring stressors about money, grief about the absence of routine and social connection lost, or plain-old boredom. It can bring waves of anxiety, depression, or overthinking. On the flipside, it also
provides (some of) us with the opportunity to slow down, rest, and focus on things we may neglect during the
hustle and bustle of our usual lifestyles. While we are all in similar situations right now, our reactions and
symptoms are unique. In the end, it is about identification and balance. Once we can name our feelings and
symptoms, we can find a way to healthily react to them or mediate them. Here’s a great visual on a step-by-step approach you can utilize to help identify your feelings and how to process them. (Acronym is FLARE – F: Feelings, L: Label, A: Allow, R: Respond, E: Expand Awareness)
Some activities that are beneficial for almost any symptom include spending time in nature, tending to plants/pets, talking to people you care for, and exercise. You can accomplish all four of these things by going on a walk outside and talking to (or calling) someone! There are just as many ways through this situation as there are complications. Meaning no matter what life throws our way, there are creative solutions and help for every problem. Your what ifs are just attempts at control and preparation. Your mind is doing its best to prepare you for the future.
Challenge: Try not give in to feelings of hopelessness or cycles of panic. It’s okay to worry and visualize those “what if” situations, but I challenge you to entertain the opposite of those situations just as often.
For example: “What if my whole family gets sick and we can’t get the help we need?”
- Counter thought: “What if only one of us gets sick (or none of us get sick) because we are practicing washing our hands.” OR “What if we get sick and our neighborhood comes together to leave us supplies on our porch?”
At first, you will have to work twice as hard to bring your counter thoughts to life but by making an effort to think through the alternate positive outcomes, you will help neutralize those what ifs and those feelings of being out of control.
About Jasmine Payne:
Jasmine is a Resident in Counseling and provides services at the Fredericksburg location. She is a two-time graduate of Longwood University, receiving her B.S. in Psychology along with an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Throughout her graduate studies, Jasmine worked with teens and adults who belonged to various minority and multicultural populations. She currently sits on the executive board for VA-ALGBTIC and has over a year of experience working with this specific community. She also has familiarity with a wide spectrum of mental health concerns including anxiety/depression, grief, belonging, high stress, moodiness, self-improvement, motivation, relationship issues, substance use, and many more.
Jasmine provides a person-centered and existential approach while utilizing solution-based and cognitive-behavioral interventions. All that boils down to a counselor who understands the role our individual cultural identities play in our lives and believes the client is the expert on their experience. She works with you to pinpoint the presenting problem, and then helps to find practical solutions and identify strengths. She believes in getting to the root of our core beliefs to discover how they impact our daily life and influence the patterns of our relationships. Jasmine strives to build a foundation with her clients to learn their stories and help support their vision.
She works under the supervision of Alycia Burant, LPC, NCC. In the event clients have any questions or concerns about Jasmine’s work, her supervisor can be contacted at 950 N. Washington St. Suite 322 Alexandria VA 22314, 540-845-6940, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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