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Breaking Out of Denial and Into Resilience During the Coronavirus Crisis

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Stress » Featured Article

By Dr. Michael J. Salas, PsyD, LPC-S

Dr. Michael J. Salas, PsyD, LPC-S

Over the past week, I've seen it multiple times--that shell shocked appearance after the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis set in. Many of us thought that this would be a passing storm where we can distantly feel sympathy for someone else's crisis. It just didn't seem that real that the crisis would become our own. 

If you look around, others are still struggling with that acceptance. Young people are playing around on beaches during spring break. You might have a friend who is viewing this as a nice time to travel and wait until this all passes. 

We felt it in our therapy practice too. We love meeting with our clients in person. However, as the weight of the situation became increasingly obvious, we became clearer and clearer that it was best to try and encourage our clients to move their therapy for the time being onto an online space. Most have been understanding. And although the dynamic has been different, online therapy has been interesting as it brings up new aspects to discuss. 

I thought it was important to take time to write something because we're all in the same boat. 

1. The range of emotions you're experiencing right now are all valid. 

Whether you're angry, scared, or sad, all of your emotions are understandable and they're OK. There are a lot of people, especially on social media, who are telling people to be positive. There is room to be balanced and logical. However, we also have to make room for our emotions. If we don't allow our emotions to play out, we'll hang onto them and they will build. Obviously, we need to be mindful about how we let them play out, but the more often we can create safe spaces to let them happen, the less likely it is that we'll hold onto them. 

2. When big changes happen, we go through grief.

We're all moving through those stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I have personally experienced all of these and know that those around me have too. It's all a lot. We're not used to feeling this vulnerable, and we often feel like we have more control than we actually do. So when vulnerability hits like this, it really does throw us into grief. 

How are you supporting your grief process through this challenging time?

3. Social distancing doesn't have to mean disconnetion.

Find ways to stay connected. I know that there are a lot of fun apps that can be used, but social distancing can feel like an equivalent to isolation. Isolation, especially when we're feeling vulnerable, is something that you want to try to avoid. How can you best feel connected to others? 

4. Find value to get you through. 

Most of us know that this struggle is temporary. We're taking steps to protect ourselves, but also the most vulnerable in our society. We're taking steps to protect our own economy. This coronavirus is a burden on all of us. However, we're also able to make choices at this time. Soemtimes it can help to reflect on the choices that you're making and how they are based in your own values. 

I hope that if you're reading this, you find this validating and you get some information that can help you get through this time.

About the Author...

Michael J. Salas is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in sexuality, trauma, and addictions. He is the owner and founder of Vantage Point Counseling Services in Dallas, TX.

If you're in Texas and struggling to cope or adjust to the current state of things, we're offering online and distance therapy. We have a unique set of experience and training that can help in times like these, such as EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapies. We also recognize that the world hasn't completely stopped and issues such as relationships, addiction recovery, anxiety and depression still deserve care and attention. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help, whether it's via an online source or if you plan to transition to in-person therapy as things become more stable.

Last Update: 3/22/2020

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