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Rebound Indy: Life during pandemic isn't easy. Be compassionate toward yourself, psychologist says

Posted at 6:00 AM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 08:49:25-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Let's face it. No matter who you are, some days have been tougher than others when it comes to handling isolation, social distancing, abandoning routines and missing loved ones.

As we rebound from the depressing moments the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on, we're turning to psychologists and therapists to learn not only what they are hearing from patients, but also what they are advising them to do to manage the stress of the economic toll and our new normal.

While we're shut in, many of you have turned to social media to reach out to friends, family and even strangers.

So, I turned to social media and posted a question: As we navigate through these tough times, what are you doing to manage the stress? What have you found for yourself that might help others, too?

Your answers to my Facebook post about managing stress ran the gamut: exercise, crocheting, meditation, poetry writing, taking on home projects and jigsaw puzzles, just to name a few.

All are things to calm the mind or offer a creative outlet and distraction during Indiana's stay-at-home order.

Dr. Danielle Henderson is a clinical psychologist at the IU School of Medicine. During her virtual sessions, she's hearing a lot of fear and concern.

"This time that we're going through is pretty unprecedented," Henderson said. "Grief with changes they've had to make right now. Events that they've maybe had to cancel. Vacations they've had to cancel, or questioning if they should even plan. A fear of the unknown of what's to come. Fear for their health. The health of their family."

Henderson said therapists are also hearing from patients who are concerned not enough people are taking serious measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"Maybe anxiety, frustration, uncertainty about maybe how do I continue doing some of these things while still abiding by these restrictions," she said.

Anxiety is rising when it comes to abandoning our typical routines and adapting to these new schedules, which have no clear end in sight. Boredom sets in when days start running together, a complaint Henderson said she has heard time and time again. She advises patients to tap into deeper parts of themselves.

"I've talked a lot about creativity and the importance of that," Henderson said. "Also thinking about your daily schedule. What did you get out of that. In what ways was that rewarding?"

Henderson also advises focusing on those rewards and positive qualities.

She also wants people to remember that, some days, we have to take things hour-by-hour to manage the stress, and that's OK. Many therapists have moved to video conferencing with their patients.

Henderson said it's been a technological learning curve for both counselors and patients, but she hopes to continue this method of connecting with patients and continue making progress in their journeys.

"Our brains are trying to comprehend what's going on, and it's new for us," she said. "And so, try to be compassionate and loving toward yourself."

RESOURCES

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. Provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural/human-caused disasters
  • Speak with your primary care physician about mental health treatment options and the potential to meet with a provider via telehealth.
  • IU Health has a Behavioral Health Virtual Hub: 317-963-2200. People can call for 24/7 triage and mental health consultations.
  • Click here to find a list of IU Health behavioral health doctors.
  • Click here to visit the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's website, Be Well Indiana.