Dr. Sanderson's interpretation of Dr. Russ Harris' coping skill during COVID-19.
There is a lot of people talking about things we can do to help with navigating this pandemic. I found this tool from Dr. Harris to be super helpful!
First things first. What are you in control of - what is outside your control? You have a gazillion (yes - I know that's not a real number) choices of things that are inside your control. When I go over one of my favorite coping skills (SOBER) to make choices I remind people that we have choices all the time. Whether or not to get dressed in the morning, whether or not to measure the sugar in our tea, whether or not to do laundry or change out of our pajamas. We have lots of choices. All of these are in our control. It is vital to pay attention to them when it feels like the big stuff is out of our control. We can't control others, we can't control when this will all end. But we can control things inside our sphere. What is inside your sphere that you can control right now? .
Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings - This is a tough one when so much is going on. Many of the therapists, clients and friends that I have talked to have told me that the biggest struggle right now is just to be ok with feeling what we are feeling. It is ok to feel scared, upset and stressed right now. Noticing those feelings and giving yourself some love and grace while you are experiencing them.
How can you build some comfort around your feelings and thoughts right now?
Come back into your body. When we are stressed or anxious we often struggle with being present in the moment in your body. We are often too much in our head and not able to connect with what is going on around us. In order to decompress and feel calmer through this pandemic - we need to practice connecting with our body. I do this by asking myself two questions: 1. What is going on outside of my body? 2. What is going on inside my body? By asking these questions I bring the focus back from my mind wanderings and connect with what is happening with my body. That gives me additional focus on what I can control and what I need to acknowledge in my life right now. How do you come back into your body?
Engage in what you are doing. We get caught up in autopilot a lot when we are stressed. We eat on autopilot, we watch tv on autopilot, we scroll in social media or news on autopilot. But if we want to de-stress and find some peace during this season - we need to be present in what is happening in each moment. In order to do that we need to make sure we are connecting to what we are doing and ask the weighing test questions: Can I continue to do this (Whatever this is): 1. On Purpose 2. Fully Present 3. Non-judgementally If the answer to all three is yes - Awesome - keep going. If the answer to any one of these is no - Stop and take a minute to decide what you want to be doing and fully engage in it. How can you re-connect and fully engage in what you are doing today?
Committed Action. This step in the acronym is all about connecting with what can improve your life - or improve the life of others. By choosing to commit to actions, behaviors and choices that will impact our life and the lives of those around us we can start to realize our potential for making an impact. This is one of the ways we feel like our best selves... when we feel like we are making a difference in our lives and the lives of others. What way can you make a committed action today?
Open Up. You have spent some time being kind to yourself while acknowledging your feelings and thoughts... Good job! Next it is time to Open up and think about how these thoughts and feelings impact you. Sharing those with a trusted friend or supportive person in your life. If you can't share them outloud - journal or share them in an art project. When you think about these thoughts and feelings - treat yourself like you would treat a friend who was feeling this way. Who can you share your feelings with today? If you can't find someone... how can you share it in art or a journal today?
Values During this season we are going to see a lot of who people who are scared. I am not sure that I believe that we will see people for who they are... so much as I think we will see who they are with they are afraid, stressed and feeling vulnerable. In this part of Dr. Harris' acronym it is important for us to remember what our values are. Who we want to be and what that means in our actions and behaviors. What are your core values? How can you live your core values right now?
Identify Resources. Another way we help ourselves feel less stressed, confused and scared is by identifying the resources that are available to you. These resources could be people in your life that you can call or video chat, community resources like food banks or financial support, emergency services or anything else that you think will help support you. Create a list with their contact information in an easy spot to find. When you have a resource list available it can decrease your anxiety and stress because you have the information right at hand! What resources do you need to find contact information for?
Disinfect and Distance. Right now we are doing our best to take care of each other by disinfecting our spaces and distancing from each other. I understand why the created the term Social Distancing... but I don't like it. The truth is we need to distance physically - not socially. It is also really important to connect with each other in a variety of ways! Have you tried a netflix night? What about a Video Meet and Greet? Can you spend some time outside at a distance? (If your state mandates say you can't - don't!) What can you do to stay connected in a meaningful way right now?