A psychologist offers tips she learned from her clients to cope with the threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During my 20 years as a psychologist and career counselor, I truly believe that I often learned more from my clients than they learned from me. During this global pandemic, I continue to be inspired by the courage shown by people who come to me for the treatment of their mental health disorders.
When the governor of my state issued a stay-at-home order, I stopped seeing clients at my office and offered counseling sessions via a simple telehealth platform. Providing services at no charge for those in need, I reached out to everyone on my caseload by email or phone per their contact agreements.
I beamed with pride to learn that my clients faced this crisis with amazing resilience and resourcefulness. Yes, they all were appropriately anxious. Yes, they exhibited more symptoms of OCD. Yes, they struggled more with sleep and overeating. And Yes, they all wished this too shall pass soon. But they all reported healthy ways to cope. Here I summarize them in a poem.
How to Cope Instead
Say things unsaid
Bake wholesome bread
Clear well your head
Savor books unread
Rest plenty in bed
Tend the homestead
Hear talks by Ted
Cry tears unshed
Let creativity spread
Laugh till you’re red
Play with Mr. Potato Head
On gratitude be fed
Through God be led
Say Things Unsaid
Many people held essential conversations with loved ones, often about unresolved issues that smoldered for years. Many clients made breakthroughs they once thought unimaginable, seemingly miraculously.
Bake Wholesome Bread
People who loved to cook, never had to cook, struggled to cook tried new recipes. Several created a few of their own. They felt empowered to nourish their families and themselves.
Clear Well Your Head
Having plenty of spare time, many folks finally tried some of the stress-management tips that I provided them over the months and years. The Five-minute rule, deep breathing, aromatherapy and guided-imagery practices led the list in popularity.
Savor Books Unread
Avid readers rediscovered treasures on their bookshelves. Others ordered books online. Still, others asked me to suggest books. A personal favorite is the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Rest Plenty in Bed
No other event in our lifetime allowed people so much time to get plenty of rest. I often reminded everyone to stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Tend the Homestead
I can’t count how many closets were cleaned, shelves were dusted, garages were de-cluttered and basements were transformed. Since home became the primary place to spend time, it needed to be as pleasant as possible.
Hear Talks by Ted
Cry Tears Unshed
Left with far fewer distractions, several people faced their grief over recent and remote losses. They allowed themselves to cry and express their grief with rituals at home.
Let Creativity Spread
They write, they draw, they journal, they tell stories, they sing, they knit, they dance, they sew, they make crafts – all in pursuit of creative pastimes.
Laugh till You’re Red
Comedy shows, sitcoms, reruns and movies provide plenty of amusing diversions.
Play with Mr. Potato Head
Card games, board games, video games, word games, question games, trivia games fill many hours with fun. Vintage toys like Mr. Potato Head inspires fond nostalgic memories.
On Gratitude be Fed
No question, simple blessings become more critical. For example, I was thrilled merely because my husband bought two rolls of toilet paper at a local drug store.
Through God be Led
Most people deepened their relationship with God. Many joined in worldwide prayers, worshipped in online services, read devotional books and heard daily scripture readings. Such practices encourage the positive virtues of humility, simplicity, generosity, forgiveness, faith, hope and love.
During these trying times, live life to the fullest by utilizing effective strategies to cope. This, too, shall pass.
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