Orlando Thrive Therapy’s licensed mental health counselor, Calena Illan, took some time to share her personal tips for making the most of this time with yourself.
It has been a few weeks since the city was issued a stay at home order and a few months since the outbreak of COVID 19. For most of us, the idea of a global virus outbreak was unprecedented and something that we have only seen by watching movies or reading books (if you were once a biology major like me.)
It is no surprise that for most people it has taken a few weeks to go through the different responses to finally come to a place where this stay at home order feels some what normal. We as a community, and as a large scale population, have been affected by this outbreak. Whether that is because you, or someone you know, has fallen ill, or your job has changed, or you have been terminated, or maybe the big plans you had suddenly got postponed or cancelled....It could be any combination of the above. We have all felt the affects of COVID 19 and we all play a roll in our response to it.
We can get easily swept up in the anxiety of the unknown. If you are like most of the world, at some point you have caught yourself wondering when you will be able to safely leave your home or what’s going on with the economy or when things will get back to “normal.”
As for me, I’ve been wondering those things too, but I have found this time has been an invitation to really reflect on how I am doing too. I am usually someone who creates to-do and checklists, even on my off days. I take pride in achieving goals and doing more. So, when I was forced to slow down during the initial phase of this, I had a sudden panic that related to my sense of self-worth, and who was I without those check lists?
That moment of panic led me to seize an opportunity to explore my sense of attachment. It made me aware of the importance for me to simplify my life and return to the virtue of non-attachment. I had to remind myself “You are not your job title, you are not the number on your scale, you are not your emotions and you you are not your thoughts. You are worthy because you are. This is just part of the human experience.”
•If you have gotten a list of things done every day since the stay at home order, then that is okay.
•If you have done nothing but to take care of yourself and cope through this time, then that is okay too.
This is not about shopping (although if that’s how you need to get by, then so be it.) Mostly what this relates to is anything that you take into with you mind, your body, your spirit, your life, etc. Being conscious about what you watch, what you hear, and what you eat are extremely important during times of crisis and self-care.
I consciously decided not to spend more than 15-minutes a day listening to news related items. My go-to podcasts are NPR or BBC global news. I don’t watch the news at all right now.
Instead, I am watching things that I enjoy! During this time I am definitely gravitating towards the “feel good” shows and movies.
I have been a conscious consumer of what I eat. Sure, I have been eating mostly whole foods, but when I am not, I am choosing to support Orlando based companies that align with my values. It has been challenging watching small businesses go through this crisis. I have actually been eating out/ordering in a lot more than I normally would to support our local small shop owners.
Whether you had a previous gym membership or you have never worked out a day in your life, some sort of physical movement is a game changer. Again, I had to simplify and practice acceptance here. Just like I had to change my normal exercise habits and expectations, you might have to too. I decided that as long as I take my dogs for a walk a couple times a day and complete some sort of light physical activity a few times a week, that’s an accomplishment. No matter what it looks like or what your step count is, doing anything is better than nothing at all.
Finding or returning to a practice of mindfulness can shift your entire outlook from pessimistic to optimistic. This can be done by practicing breath work, guided meditations for just a few minutes a day or doing some yoga. This practice has helped quiet my thoughts and my own anxieties. Even my partner tells me I am a happier person when I do something mindful every day.
Reminder: Mindfulness can be anything! Maybe just standing in the grass with your bare feet for a few minutes to soak in some rays of sunshine and feel the earth beneath your feet.
Social distancing does not have to mean social disconnection. In fact, you may find, like I did, that having more downtime and access to technology, allows you to feel more connected than ever to your support system. Technology allows you to FaceTime, zoom, Skype, Google hangout and Netflix Party, etc. anytime, anywhere...So, don’t stop reaching out to your people. Chances are they would love to hear from you. If home is not a safe place for you, there are still community support outlets open and able to connect with you.
These are really just a few simple ways that I found to rebalance myself during this time, but there are a multitude of ways to respond to COVID19 stress. The stay at home order won’t be the first or last time as a community that we will have to be #OrlandoStrong.
No matter how you are responding to this, it is important to have self-compassion and do not filter out the good that is being offered. Social media has been flooded with stories of donations to and for the cause. Whatever you may need or feel pulled towards it seems there are ways you can contribute to your community. It has been encouraging to see so many companies offering free support, online classes, at home delivery, and so much more. We WILL get through this and come out on the other side, more resilient than ever!
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.