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This year has been different for all of us. Healthcare and food services workers are now our frontline heroes. We are required to wear masks in public places. Graduation ceremonies were cancelled or transferred to online platforms. I think it’s safe to say that we no longer have a “normal”. The normal we once enjoyed is not a possibility for the foreseeable future. This is scary stuff to tackle! 

One weekend I listened to Brené Brown’s podcast, “Unlocking Us” after a recommendation from my supervisor. In the episode, Brown discussed the challenge posed by the middle stretch of a journey. That is where we are in regards to COVID-19. We have passed the point of no return. We are forcing ourselves to come to terms with the idea that normal is not going to be returning. 

As a trauma-focused therapist, my first thoughts always lean towards our stress responses: fight/flight/freeze/faint. For a majority of us, our bodies have been trapped in a prolonged stress response for almost seven months. The human body is not meant to sustain a stress response for such a long period of time. The longer our bodies remain in the hyper-stressed state, the more distressed we will become. 

How do we get out of fight/flight/freeze/faint?

  • See a licensed therapist: Therapists are trained to help you through difficult situations such as this. 
  • Journal: Write down what you miss about pre-COVID times, what you look forward to each day, and how you are doing in the present moment. Your journal will never judge you, but it will always hold space for you.
  • Grounding: Give yourself 5 minutes a day to focus on the world around you. Involve as many senses as you can! 
    • I like to ground myself by feeling the carpet under my toes. Another way I enjoy grounding myself is while drinking coffee or tea. For me, I find significant comfort in letting the flavors wash over my tongue.
  • Routine: Create a routine that provides you with some comfort. Routines are comforting because they provide us with predictability and a sense of safety. 

It is OK to be unsure and uncomfortable with where you are right now. Give yourself permission to feel that discomfort! We are all experiencing some level of dysregulation.

If you would like to know more about this topic, reach out to Kaitlyn at kaitlyn@embracestrengthcounseling.com. To schedule a consultation or initial session, please call (303) 720-9424.

Kaitlyn Valdez, MA, LPCC

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