In the words of Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast…
How different our world looked three months ago, a week ago, yesterday. We all sit here trying to process and wrap our
brains around an extremely, incomprehensible series of events. Now, I am no expert on zoonotic diseases or molecular
biology, politics or conspiracy theories, but what I do know is mental health. As a therapist with over 20 years’
experience, I know all about mood disorders, whether it be anxiety or depression. I know about the ramifications of
trauma. I know the struggles of watching your loved one battle addiction. I know what it is like to feel afraid and out of
control. The current state of our world will undoubtedly have a significant impact on us all. So, what do we do? What
do we do right now, in the very midst of this occurring all around us?
Here are my two cents for ways to navigate these stressful times:
1) Breathe – Too often we forget to take in intentional oxygen. As you read this right now, inhale deeply through
your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds and rest for 4 seconds.
This is known as “Four Square Breathing”. This is a great, portable coping mechanism. Our breath is always with
us. It naturally relaxes the body. It’s a great way to re-center and connect to the present moment.
2) Mindfulness – I love everything about mindfulness. Now trust me, you can be the average Joe and practice
mindfulness. All too often, there is an underlying assumption that you have to be some sort of Zen Master-intraining to get this concept.
Essentially mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment without judging something that is happening in everyday life.
It is the practice of being aware and present.
Really living in the here and now. With all that is happening presently, how many of us are lost for hours on our
cell phones or other electronic devices? We especially need balance now! We need to protect our brains from
becoming overwhelmed with the barrage of incoming information (or misinformation!). Mindfulness also
includes formal practice or meditation. But again, don’t be scared away by “meditation”. This comes in many
forms. Give it a try! Great mindfulness sites include mindful.org. Some great apps to download on your phone
include Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, Breathe, Smiling Minds, Aura
3) Process your feelings – Social Media is lit up currently. Everyone needs a place to put their feelings, questions,
thoughts, and opinions. Utilize your platforms wisely. Trusted friends and loved ones may be a better place to
process your emotions. There is a number of therapeutic benefits from the ability to “process your feelings”.
We all get that “feel good” state after a really good conversation with someone. Better outlets outside of social
media include actual dialogue with others (as we practice “social distancing” of course!) or journal your feelings.
It’s important to not stuff those feeling inside. Encourage your loved ones (especially children that may really
not have a full understanding) to share their feelings. Identification and validation of feelings is an ongoing
theme in therapy.
4) Find humor – We all get this is no laughing matter, but it is imperative to keep humor and joy present in our
daily lives. Tell a joke, be goofy, play during this time. I’ve read countless articles that speak to the validity of
humor and improved overall mental health. Laughter releases the “feel good” neurotransmitters: dopamine,
serotonin, and an array of endorphins. We all can use a bit more of this positive brain boost!
5) Safety in Numbers - We are all universally suffering on this front in some degree. We are all in the same boat.
There is something comforting in knowing that we are “all in this together”. If at any time in history we’ve need
to be on the same “team”, this is the time. Keeping this mind set is extremely helpful if we are feeling isolated
and lost. Community and Unity should be our goal. Let’s come together to support each other. We need to
assist one another in easing the anxiety and emotional pain.
6) Reach out to loved ones – Check in! Be present with your loved ones. Ask how they are doing. Process some
feelings. Take advantage of this time to connect with those relationships that matter. Or take advantage of this
time to build or repair relationships. We all need one another (see above!)
7) Resiliency – One thing I consistently learn in this profession, is humans are resilient! History has shown over and
over, that we can take a punch and keep coming back. “This too will pass” is one of those phrases repeatedly
popping in my head. This is certainly not an attempt to minimize our situation, but certainly a realistic (and
necessary thought) to alleviate the “doom and gloom” mentality that can be enormously consuming right now.
8) BE KIND!!! – Please, Please, Please, be kind! Panic breeds panic. Too many times, the feelings of being out of
control lends to outrageous, entitled, and/or ugly behavior. We get that people are on edge and may not be the
best “behaved” during scary times, but this is a time to be especially mindful of who we are and how we treat
others. Tap into your own integrity. We can use a catastrophic event and turn it into an opportunity to do good
and treat people well. The one thing we DO have control over currently is how we are as people and how we
treat others. Reflect on who you are.
I hope the above is helpful in some way! If you are really feeling overwhelmed and need professional guidance, reach
out! Many of us therapists are ready and able to conduct telehealth sessions as needed. This is a really easy and
accessible way to get additional help during these uncertain times.
Be well and be kind,
Angela Solis, LCPC, CADC, CCTP
Owner/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Certified Clinical Trauma Professional
Crossroads Counseling Services, LLC