If there’s one thing that’s certain right now, it’s uncertainty. Sure, we’re not under strict stay-at-home orders anymore, but is it really safe to return to work? How will we pay the bills if we don’t?
What will happen to the kids, since schools are still physically closed? What happens if I get sick? What will tomorrow look like? Next week? Next year?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, if you think too much about it.
But Amberly Gallagher, a Springs-area marriage and family therapist who works with CPCD Head Start and whose Tapestry Counseling maintains a location off of South Powers Boulevard in Security-Widefield, said there are ways to weather the psychological storm.
“Journaling, in particular … is a brain train,” she said. “If we look at our brains like a mechanical system or even a muscle, we can train our brains. We can train ourselves to think more positively over time.”
Think of it this way: Negativity, stress, fear and anxiety all clog up cerebral bandwidth.
“If I get that [negative emotion] out on paper, I can see logically that this is not the end of the world, it’s really not,” Gallagher said.
Learning to change our mindset, in turn, empowers us to become more resilient.
“It’s almost giving grace to yourself and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you feel on a day-to-day basis,”
That’s especially important for families whose kids may not have the emotional vocabulary to understand the peculiarities of a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that children and teens’ reactions are, in part, based on what they see from the adults around them.
“When parents and caregivers deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best example for their children,” the CDC website said. “Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.”
Put another way, caregivers who have their own feelings under control will be in a better situation to help their kids find balance.
“It’s identifying the [child’s] emotions and then relating,” Gallagher said. “If it’s ‘I’m scared,’ [then] ‘It’s OK to be a little scared. That’s why we wear our masks or that’s why we don’t touch things in the store.’”
Then, she said, empower the child to suggest a solution. For young kids, that can be something as simple as cuddling and watching a movie; for older children, it may mean writing letters to first responders, making masks or leaving messages of love around the community.
And remember, above all else, to give yourself some grace, Gallagher said.
“There is no playbook,” she said of dealing with the pandemic, “so just be really honest.
“It’s 100 percent appropriate to say ‘I’m feeling a little nervous, I’m feeling a little scared, I’m feeling a little angry.’ But it’s also not saying ‘Oh no, everything’s fine.’”