Mama absolutely did not say there’d be days like this.

‘Your normal methods of coping may not be enough right now. You had found effective ways of coping with life as normal, but this is not normal.”

When I wrote my last blog entitled “Change is a comin'” I had no idea of all the changes we would soon be facing. So many changes. Most of them rather abruptly with an unknown duration. I’m now seeing all my clients through telehealth, meaning I no longer go into my office and sit with my clients face to face. We are doing video calls and some of them phone calls. It’s not the same as sitting in the room with my clients, but it’s been okay.

I miss hugging my children and grandchildren. We have been using Zoom to have virtual family time for all of us. The other night I read a book to the littles using Zoom and they got to talk to their cousins. We are planning a talent night soon and they can all share a talent with the rest of us. It should be very entertaining. My 87 year old mom lives with my husband and I. She has enjoyed video calls with our relatives.

I recently asked friends to post positive effects of staying at home.  Here’s some of the comments:

Cooking more.

Dinner and game night at the table every night.
I’ve taken time to get things done instead of “lounging and recouping “ when I’m not at work. I’m more driven

Those quiet moments when the dishwasher is humming because it’s full from another meal we enjoyed together, kids are reading or doing school work, and I’m drinking coffee and moving about the house kissing my husband on the cheek in passing.

I sat on my patio and enjoyed the beautiful day. I felt thankful.

It has forced me to slow down! And I have enjoyed EVERY second of it! No complaints here!!

And I’m so happy for them. I’ve found all these things to be true as well. We’ve done DIY projects that we probably wouldn’t have had time for. We are slowing down, being intentional about connecting with family, spending time outside. But, not every one has it so good.
I’ve talked to a number of my clients in the last couple of weeks about adjusting their coping skills. Your normal methods of coping may not be enough right now. You had found effective ways of coping with life as normal, but this is not normal. This is the opposite of normal. You need to adapt the skills you already have, or maybe you need some new ideas. Here’s some things I’m suggesting to clients:
1. Get outside every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Preferably several times a day. Breathe the fresh air deeply. Look around you and try to notice 5 things you haven’t noticed before.
2. Connect with someone either by phone or video, but preferably video. As humans we need to see facial expressions. Remember Tom Hanks painting the face on the volleyball in Cast Away?
3. Eat healthy.
4. Have some structure in your day. Get up and go to bed around the same time each day. Get up and get ready for the day. Don’t lounge around in pajamas all day. Wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair and put on deodorant at the very least.
5. Limit the time you spend watching the news and social media. Don’t drown yourself in COVID-19 information. Check it maybe twice a day and that’s it.
6. Reach out when you are feeling sad or lonely or overwhelmed. We all are feeling it. Reach out to someone and talk through that.
7. Remind yourself each day that this is a temporary situation. This will not last for the rest of your life. This will come to an end and life will go back to normal at some point.
8. Practice being present and grateful. Without the distraction of future thinking (ie. what time to pick the kids up or drop them off, appointments, ballet lessons, sports practices, church activities, etc.) that we usually have, allow yourself to be fully in the present. Intentionally use all five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing) to experience your world. Each morning and evening find 3 things to be grateful for.
9. Do something that makes you laugh every day. Watch a comedian, a funny video, family videos, play a silly game, have your kids tell you jokes, look up tongue twisters and try some of them, etc.
10. Reach out to someone else to make sure they are alright. Text, phone, video, email, snail mail…so many options. Checking on others gives us a sense of purpose and value.
I know that some of you are in terrible situations. For some, staying at home isn’t a welcome change. You may be home with an alcoholic, an addict,  or an abuser.  You may have lost your job or the provider in the home has, causing you to worry about if you will lose your home, your car, or be able to buy necessities. You may be home with a new baby and no support. You may be a caregiver of someone and have no support. You may be grieving the death of a loved one all alone.  You may be dealing with a difficult diagnosis alone. Please reach out. Please ask for help. Ask for support. Most mental health professionals are doing telehealth like I am. We want so badly to support anyone that we can. Ask friends. Ask people in your church. Ask anyone, please just ask.
Here’s a list of US numbers that may be helpful to someone:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK
Trevor HelpLine / Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ+ Teens — 1-866-488-7386
Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741
IMAlive — online crisis chat
National Runaway Safeline — 1-800-RUNAWAY (chat available on website)
Teenline — 310-855-4673 or text TEEN to 839863 (teens helping teens)

Child Abuse Hotline — 800-4-A-CHILD (800 422 4453)
National Domestic Violence Hotline — 800-799-7233
Missing & Exploited Children Hotline — 1-800-843-5678

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — 1-800-662-435

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

Change is a comin’

Accepting does not mean approving. Just because we accept the reality of the change, doesn’t mean that we approve of it.

Change is hard. I hear this a lot. Clients come in, sit on my couch, and say, “Change is hard.” I can’t argue. Change is hard. There are changes that we anticipate and plan for and then there are changes that we didn’t see coming. Change that is forced upon us or change that has taken us by surprise. Change is inevitable, unavoidable, and happens whether we choose to fight or be a willing participant.

Some changes we perceive as positive (welcome) and some we perceive as negative (unwelcome). In changing our perception, we can change how we feel about the change. But, this doesn’t always make it any easier. In fact, some of the changes in my life have had to drag me, kicking, screaming and crying into the new. Other changes I have joined hands with and joyfully skipped into the new.

Lately, there have been a lot of changes in my life. Some I initiated, and some I fought against until my knees were blistered from praying and my eyes were swollen with tears. The changes still came. I could be angry and anxious and depressed. So many ways to respond to change. But in the acceptance of the reality of the situations, I find I’m stretching, growing, finding a new perspective.

You can choose your response to change. Even if it is initially an unwelcome change. Even if it is forever an unwelcome change. They way you think about the change is the key. Change doesn’t have to be the enemy or your friend. Change can be neutral. It already is, right? A change is simply something different than what we are used to. It’s inanimate, lifeless. Simply something different. The way we respond to and think about the change is what gives it meaning.

Even though I’m stretching and growing, I’m also groaning. When you work out muscles that have been doing nothing, it hurts. And it hurts for a long time. Finally though, you work out one day and nothing hurts, it actually feels good and you feel strong. Right now, some of the changes in my life hurt, some of them feel beautiful, some of them feel scary and some of them are causing me to stretch muscles that are unused. The change itself is not hurtful or beautiful or scary. The change is simply life moving, ebbing and flowing. The change is neutral. My feelings attached to the change give it the meaning.

Change is coming. Change is all around. Life is not static, it is dynamic. It is always moving, always changing. See the change as neutral. Choose your feelings about it. Fight and claw and refuse to accept the reality and you will never be happy. Adjust and adapt and accept it as a part of life and you can ride the waves. Accepting does not mean approving. Just because we accept the reality of the change, doesn’t mean that we approve of it. But that acceptance moves us into a place of finding a solution or adaptation so we can move forward. Sometimes it takes time. Be compassionate with yourself. Don’t expect to accept everything easily and readily. But know you have choices.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules