Since the advent of the COVID 19 virus, the landscape of behavioral health has changed significantly.
For clients, this includes:
- An increase in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression,
- Relational strain
- Higher incidences of drug and alcohol use
For behavioral health specialists this includes:
- Increased use, or sole use of remote or teletherapy
- Which increases isolation for the therapist and lack of connection with colleagues and mentors.
- And an increase in advocacy for greater mental health access and coverage for all.
Listen to my interview on the Chicago Psychology Podcast on counseling during COVID to learn more:
in addition, here are some ideas to help you manage the isolation during the pandemic:
Find someone you trust. Talk with a family member or close friend about your experience. Contact a friend and have someone stay with you for a few hours or a day. Don’t carry this burden alone; share it with those who care about you. Talking about the stressful event will help you recover more quickly.
Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Express your feelings as they arise. Take time to cry if needed. Don’t fight any recurring thoughts or memories of the stressful event – these are natural and will diminish over time.
Take care of yourself. Get enough rest and eat regularly. If you are irritable or tense from lack of sleep or if you are not eating correctly, you will have less ability to deal with a stressful situation.
Make as many daily decisions as possible. This will give you a feeling of control over your life. Know your limits. If the problem is beyond your control and cannot be changed, don’t fight the situation.
Practice relaxation and meditation. Create a quiet scene. You can’t always run away, but you can hold a vision in your mind – a quiet scene or walking along the beach can temporarily take you out of the turmoil of a stressful situation.
Play soft background music. At home and in your office or car, provide a soothing alternative to the noise of the office, telephones, or traffic.
Take one thing at a time. For people under stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. The load looks so great that it becomes painful to tackle any part of it. When this happens, remember that it is a temporary condition and that you can work your way out of it . . . one step at a time.
Allow time for a task. This will help reduce some of your self-imposed time pressure. If you normally plan half an hour to get a job done by rushing through it, schedule forty-five minutes or an hour so you can do the job more deliberately and thoughtfully. This can only improve your quality of work. Give your best effort, but don’t take yourself to task of you can’t achieve the impossible.
Spruce up your surroundings. Keep a beautiful bouquet of flowers at home or in the office. Surround yourself with plants that you especially like. Make your environment one you enjoy.
Escape for awhile. Whether it is a brief trip, a change of scene, or losing yourself in a book or a movie, this escape may give you the chance to put things in perspective. Then you can return more composed to better deal with the situation.