In the past week, you most likely have heard or read coverage stories of the one-year anniversary of the declaration of a global pandemic and all the other events that followed. These events include a declaration of a nation-wide emergency, stay-at-home orders, and eventually mask-mandates. For some of us, this anniversary can also bring to mind the many different types of losses we experienced this past year. Some of these losses are tangible such as the loss of the loved one and some are intangible such as canceled family gatherings, postponed weddings, or missed graduations. Naturally, you may experience some difficult emotions as we reflect on this past year. Below are a few techniques to care for yourself in these coming days.
- Self-care: Making sure your needs are met ensures you can cope and move forward during times of stress. This includes making sure you are well-rested, exercising, spending time with loved ones, and spending time in prayer. The practice of self-care gives us a chance to renew our physical and emotional health so that even though we may be experiencing a heaviness related to this one-year mark we can move forward.
- Honor Your Emotions: In play therapy rooms we are constantly teaching our young clients to “name it to tame it,” meaning acknowledge your emotions, both the positive and negative ones. Acknowledging means to slow down and pay attention to the emotion you are experiencing, whether that means saying the emotion aloud or writing about it. This act alone helps increase our self-awareness, which in turn helps us choose our response to what is happening.
- Lean on Your Faith and your Faith Community: Whenever we are faced with circumstances outside of our control, we can either lean into the fear or lean into our faith. Our faith teaches us that God is with us always (Isaiah 41:10) and that through Him we have access to His peace, which surpasses all circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7). Part of leaning into our faith includes reaching out to others who share our faith to encourage each other and remind ourselves of God’s goodness.
- Take a look back: Reflecting over this past year gives us the opportunity to see all we have overcome and the many ways in which we have adapted. The world may have felt like it changed overnight, but you kept up and have persevered. Looking back allows us to gain confidence that we are capable and resilient.
- Seek Professional Support: Engaging with a mental health professional can be a form of self-care as we are taking time to care for our mental health. Meeting with a therapist allows us to express and gain validation for our mixed emotions as we reach this global milestone. Therapy creates a safe space for us to process any losses, hurts, or disappointments 2020 brought.