We are living in uncertain times and navigating through unchartered waters. Millions of individuals have been infected and affected by COVID-19. Many of us are trying to find ways to entertain our kids at home while others are reporting to work. Some of us are running in circles trying to figure out unemployment benefits while others are learning how to adjust to the new reality of “social distancing”. Collectively we are experiencing trauma, rapid change, and heightened emotions. We are transforming, and even during the darkness, we can find room to grow. Not all change is bad, and in fact, change can be good for our mental health.
But how do we make this pandemic into a period of growth?
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emotional growth during change
By paying attention to the profound lessons flying around us, certainly, we will not remain the same after the pandemic passes. Too much has changed.
Emotional growth usually requires some difficult lessons. Whether it is a broken relationship, the loss of a job, an illness, a death or a pandemic, we often face growth during periods of adversity. Resilience is adaption in the face of adversity.
Discovering growth during COVID-19
- Kindness: There have been endless acts of kindness flooding our front porches, our hospitals, our sidewalks and our world during this time. Neighborhoods and communities are coming together to organize food drives, decorate the sidewalks with chalk art, deliver food to hospital workers, grocery shop for one another, and check-in with each other. It is common to see homemade cookies and meals left on front porches and notes of kindness hung in the windows. Libraries are hosting virtual storytimes to give parents a break and famous artists are playing virtual free concerts for the public. Everyone is giving their time, talent and skill in any way possible to help others. In a crisis, kindness becomes a daily habit. It is in our human nature to be kind, but we often are so bogged down in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we have lost touch without our communities. This pandemic is allowing us to reconnect with our neighbors and community, and there is so much value in that.
- Less is more: Since non-essential businesses are closed and many of us have been affected by the economy, we are taking a “less is more” approach by buying less than usual. This mindset not only protects our pocketbooks but also is good for the environment as more products usually equate to more waste. We live in a society based around consumerism. When we pause consumerism to focus on quality time with loved ones at home, self-care, creative projects, and being still, we may change our priorities to focus on people over profit. We are learning to live with less and to focus on those who matter most.
- Being still: Social distancing and quarantine has forced many Americans to stay inside and learn to live in the present. We cannot plan future vacations or parties, but instead, we are taking each day at a time. For many of us, being still is a considerable challenge. In the quiet of stillness, we are often faced with feelings and thoughts; we would instead override with our to-do lists. The art of being still can help us quiet our minds and find refuge to seek perspective and wisdom without being interrupted. When we allow for intentional stillness, we can allow ourselves to focus on what is within our control. We can learn to control our thoughts, words, actions and reactions.
- Adapting: Humans have been adapting to change for centuries. We have been through world wars, historical revolutions, the Great Depression, and multiple pandemics, and we have learned to adapt to every situation. This COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Although we may not enjoy or embrace change, as we often are creatures of habit, we have learned that with change come new ideas, new inventions, new plans and different perspectives. Change makes us re-evaluate what is important. When we learn to cope with change, we can lower our risk for anxiety and depression. Our relationships will flourish, and our bodies will feel healthier. Practicing different ways of thinking and being in the world can boost our ability to cope with change and help us create a life that is adaptive to new places and unexpected events. We can learn to adapt to change by evaluating our levels of control, checking our thought patterns, being present, and prioritize the important things.
This pandemic is difficult. We are all affected, but like everything else in life, this too shall eventually pass. And once this passes, we will hopefully be kinder, simpler, resilient, and more peaceful human beings. There will be mental and emotional growth from this pandemic; we will never be the same.
At Casa Palmera, our goal is whole-person healing; we treat the whole person and not just the disorder. Our dedicated treatment team goes underneath the surface of a presenting problem to determine the underlying triggers and address the root so that it doesn’t manifest itself in other ways. Our goal is not to treat the wound with a Band-Aid but instead develop a permanent solution to problems that are preventing you from living your happiest and healthiest life. Our clinical staff works with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that includes therapy approaches for your specific needs, as well as tools that will improve your life on a holistic level. Learn more about Casa Palmera here and see how Casa Palmera’s programs can help you transform your mind, body and soul.
Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the vital world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases, including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.