Real talk: I had a completely different article planned for publishing today. And then, once again, we’re continuing to live through historical events. (Side note: I’d be okay if we did not have any more historical events for say, even 2 months? It’s a lot). The riot at the Capitol. High Covid case numbers. Continuing to adapt and change as we survive through a pandemic. And that’s just what has happened this week. So yes, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt overwhelmed, unsure, and even anxious this week. That’s why a post about the ins and outs of counseling doesn’t really seem relevant right now.
It’s really important to me to get resources and tools into your hands right now that will help you with managing your own big emotions, processing in a healthy way, and loving each other well. There are three resources that came to mind over the last 48 hours. First, if you are a parent or adult who has kids in your life, please check out this amazing article from 2018 by Fred Rogers Productions. There’s so much wisdom in this piece for all of us! What I love is that there are practical suggestions for parents and caregivers to walk with their kids through hard, tragic events. My biggest takeaway from this is how important it is to limit kids’ intake of news and media. In our home, it’s our practice to not have the news on while our kids are awake. On their developmental level, they need to know they are safe, loved, and cared for. My son noticed I was sad yesterday and asked me why...kids are SO perceptive. They pick up how the adults in their lives are feeling! Their developing brains also are still learning how to handle scary and confusing images that we often see in the news. For our family right now, when we do discuss hard and scary things in our world, we choose to look for the helpers. Taking a lesson straight from Mr. Rogers himself. It brings a sense of calm and hope.
Second, know that there are 24/7 crisis and help lines available through phone or text. Mental Health America has several options to support mental and emotional health around the clock. You can find all of the information here. If you’re in an immediate and life threatening crisis, please call 911! We know that working with a counselor is a great, important tool in our toolbox for processing hard things, getting a “tune up” in communication skills, and managing anxiety and depression. However, most private practice counselors are not available 24/7, mostly because we would burn out and not be able to provide quality care. Crisis helplines are staffed by teams of counselors who work in manageable shifts to provide care. They’re trained to listen, help the person process through their crisis, and then recommend a local resource for additional follow up care. That’s why it’s so important to me for my clients and people in my community to know about high quality crisis care phone lines and services like those provided at Mental Health America.
Lastly, give yourself time and space. This week has been a lot. I know personally I’ve experienced a range of emotions - outrage, sadness, grief, shock, weariness. If we don’t allow ourselves the time and space to sit with our feelings, acknowledge them, and begin to process them, we will simply be stuck in them. When we are mindful and aware of how we are feeling, we can acknowledge that feeling, and begin to move through it. Here’s a great resource from Psychology Today about moving through emotions. This is a skill and it can absolutely be learned and improved on. A big challenge to this is slowing down enough, even 5 minutes, to first acknowledge how we are feeling. It’s too important not to do this! I love the skill set of acknowledging, sitting with the feeling, and then moving through it because we are then able to look to the future. Look towards hope. If we can see even a glimmer of hope, we can pull through the hard situation we are facing.
I have no hard and fast answers of how to solve the challenges we are facing right now. What I do know is that as a counselor I am committed to caring for the people the very best way that I can. I am committed to looking for the helpers, those who are caring for others when chaos is happening. I am committed even more so to listening and interacting with grace, kindness, and empathy. I’m holding tightly to who and what bring more grace, hope, and peace to my heart.
I'm JoEllen and I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for visiting and let me know how I can best serve you!