Our Executive Director recently asked staff therapists a few questions regarding the current climate we’re all experiencing during COVID-19. Here are some of their thoughts and collective wisdom…
What do you see as the mental health implications of this crisis/how is this stress affecting us?
There is a continuum of experiences and emotions that depend on a number of factors – things like where you live in the country, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COVID, the amount and types of media exposure you get etc.
People are going to be in different places with this at different times, maybe even by the hour. Someone may have moments of denial or shock, they may have moments where adrenaline and anxiety is high, they might feel a sense of dread with (tight chest, vigilance, trouble sleeping, anticipatory fears), some will have moments feeling of being helpless, fatigued or depressed. Something of this magnitude has the ability to shake our foundations- and disrupt many of the things we have built our lives on.
We all have a “Window of Tolerance.” This is the zone where we function most effectively. If we get above that zone (hyperarousal) we get irritable, uncomfortable, angry, panicked, we feel like we are out of control (even of our own bodies) and kick into fight, flight freeze. When we get below the zone (hypo arousal) we get lethargic, depressed, feel “spacy” or like we are losing track of time.
Stress and trauma can shrink our window of tolerance.
We might need to get support from our partners or friends when we are headed in either direction. We also need strategies to re-calibrate. Things like: