As I’ve been meeting with clients in my practice in Broomfield, Colorado during Covid-19 it’s been hard to miss the impact I’ve seen in my clients during this time. I don’t even have to ask about it because they’re the ones who usually bring it up. In fact, it seems like everywhere I go I hear about the impact social distancing is having on peoples’ physical, mental, and relational health. Coronavirus forced us as a collective, to slow down and to spend more time with our families and ourselves. As a result, social distancing may have brought old wounds to the surface that were ready to be healed. Unhealthy relationship dynamics may have became more apparent, causing you to reach out for the help you needed for some time. Whatever the outcome for you and your family, it is difficult to ignore the lessons that social distancing taught us. Let’s take some time to explore these lessons and consider those that we would like to take with us as life returns to (somewhat) normal.
We live in a face-paced society that values productivity and career success over individual and relational wellness. In other words, coronavirus may have resulted in the vacation that you never asked for. External factors that you once placed your self worth in, including your career, earnings, and hobbies may have been stripped away from you. For instance, many of individuals I spoke to, reported experiencing an identity crisis of sorts. When distractions are eliminated, it can lead to a flood of emotions that have been building up over time.
What’s the lesson here? Continue to make space for solitude. Space and silence allows you to take an honest look at your well being and yourself. Are you showing up in the world according to your values? Are you putting time and energy into your relationships? What activities can you engage in to improve your quality of life? In conclusion, solitude can help point us in the direction of happiness and fulfillment.
Nurture your Relationships
Relationships don’t heal themselves! This is a truth that many of us don’t want to confront. I often hear the phrase “time is the best medicine”. I do not think this applies to relationships! Why? If an issues in a relationships is not addressed, it often causes emotions to build up and eventually a big blow-up or resentment. Therefore, for many of my clients, social distancing caused old unhealthy patterns to resurface.
What is the lesson here? Intentionality is key in relationships! Life gets busy. We get tired. There are distractions everywhere. However, if you keep minimizing or denying the issues in your relationship, it is likely that they will not be addressed until it is too late. So be intentional, make time, and be willing to be uncomfortable. All in all, research shows that healthy relationships are correlated with lower rates of anxiety and depression.
Flexibility = Resilience
The individuals I’ve seen struggle the most with social distancing are those who refuse to accept it as the new norm and try to “wait it out”. After making this observation, I decided to do some research. I stumbled upon a podcast discussing the correlation between resilience and flexibility. Flexibility can occur both in thoughts and actions. For example, you may have reframed social distancing as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family that you previously lost touch with (thoughts). In addition, you used your extra time to engage in a new hobby or pursue additional training to accelerate your career (actions). What’s the lesson here? Open mindedness and considering unusual solutions can lead to reduced suffering in the midst of crisis.
Michaela Standhart is a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate. She specializes in couples therapy, betrayal trauma, and works with adolescent as young as 12 years old. Michaela stays sane while practicing social distancing by reminding herself how happy her dog is.