Today’s entry comes from a phychotherapist named Diana Foarfeca
Saturday, my dear friend Camilla, asked me to write a few words on how I deal with this new state of living. It took me a couple of days to write this because I wanted to offer not only my personal view, but also some suggestions from the point of view of a psychotherapist.
A day in my new life (social distancing life) starts with meditation, nature sounds playing in the background, a good coffee and a (good!) hug from my husband. Then, I try to keep up with a self imposed agenda – I have my therapy sessions online; in between I read some articles or attend a webinar; or I just read a few pages from my psychology books. I take a lunch break with my husband and, after the many hours of sitting at my desk, I also do some yoga. All these exercises, relaxation techniques, routines, help my brain process that life goes on, even with all the uncertainty and tension.
Every day I try to keep connected with my dear ones – family, friends, colleagues – be there for them, offer them my support or ask them to help me.
All through this, I feel fear, I feel overwhelmed many times; but I consider this to be normal. We are humans and what we feel defines our uniqueness as individuals.
As a professional, I guide and help my clients to practice the state of conscious presence or, what we call, mindfulness. It is that state in which I live, feel and act “here and now”. In order to live mindfully you have to follow some steps.
Thus, I encourage you to make space for your feelings. It is ok to be afraid, to feel fear and to feel insecure. It is ok to feel anxiety. Our brains react to uncertainty with anxiety. The mind needs a sense of control. And we seem to have little control in this pandemic. All we can do is accept our fear!
Next, don’t push yourselves! We just need to be kind to ourselves, speak kindly with ourselves and with the others, make time to practice relaxation exercises – breathing, meditation, anything that brings us to that state of relaxation. These exercises will help us lower the emotional and physiological hyper-activation. Then, we are able to behave rationally and, in response to the reality that we are living – stay at home, prevent and stay safe.
Yesterday I was reminded by some words from a pastor – “practice what you preach” and more specifically “practice the presence of God”. These days I think that many of us practice what we “preach”, we practice our beliefs, we practice our fears, we practice our coping mechanisms and “rescue nets”. I would like to go further with this urge and offer you an insight into my mindfulness practice. This practice has helped me all my life (through many adverse situations that I have been through since my childhood) and helps me even now, with this pandemic.
Now and then, I find myself in a situation where less functional thoughts come to my mind, and I pray “Lord, You take care of these thoughts”. I ask Him to take care of my fears and to give me a sense of peace and safety. For me, God is the God of love, of joy, of goodness, of power, of faithfulness. To me, God is the God who promised: “I am with you everyday, until the end of days” (in the book of Apostle Matthew, chapter 28, verse 20).
Dr. James Doty tells us about his practice: “I wake up in the morning and sit quietly and think about that person or the situation in which someone offered me unconditional love. This gives you an immense sense of warmth, caring and you see how it influences you as an individual, and it calms you because, in that context, you feel no threat.”
Even before I knew about Dr. Doty’s practice, that was part of my life as well. What helps me is to think about all the love God has bestowed upon me.
“My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life(…) We love because God loved us first.” Apostle John, in his first letter, chapter 4, verses 7 and 19