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Finding Your Voice: Mental Health & Wellness During COVID

Cindy Danzell is the Director of Counseling and Wellness here at NLU.

3 Strategies that can help regulate your emotions during this pandemic

During this pandemic, I have experienced many waves of emotions and behaviors that concerned me. I had to remind myself that many of us were going through a wave of isolation, unpredictability, grief, trauma, worry, fear, and many more emotions. I had to remind myself that it was okay not to be okay. However, I had to be intentional about recovering even though we are still in a pandemic.

These three strategies help me regulate my emotions as I still navigate Covid-19, and maybe it can guide you:

• Recognize your triggers
I had to recognize what was triggering me and causing me not to focus or effectively function. I realized that Covid-19 brought new emotions or a resurgence of emotions that I thought I had addressed. However, I had to address it now if I wanted to survive this pandemic mentally. Another trigger was the continuous barrage of racial injustice that overwhelmed my social media feed, news outlets, and talks throughout many zoom calls.

Plus, I was concerned, as I still am, about the surge of Covid-19 in many states and the lack of care from many government officials. I realized it was difficult to cope because I was trying to be okay, create a sense of normalcy while the world was on “fire,” and not just metaphorically — for some states, their world was literally on fire.

• Recognize how you respond to these triggers
Honestly, I thought I rationally handled stress. I knew how to utilize my support system and seek therapy if needed. However, this was different; this was new. I had to remind myself that I had never been in a pandemic, much less a worldwide pandemic, with ongoing racial injustice during the presidential voting season. I also had chronic zoom fatigue, concerns about being around people in public, and feeling overwhelmed by hearing more people contracting and dying by Covid-19.

As a therapist, I am used to “holding space” for others; however, I found myself unable to acknowledge that I was STRUGGLING. I felt guilt and shame surging in me because I recognized that people were hurting, and I wanted to do my part. However, I denied that I wasn’t effectively functioning, and I realized that I couldn’t help others if I weren’t healthy myself.

• Figure out what works for you
I had to stop myself from being on autopilot. I had to stop myself from ignoring that I wasn’t doing well. I couldn’t keep the idea that I was okay, and I had to start recognizing that my body was going through some form of trauma. I was hypersensitive and hypervigilant, and that was not healthy.
I had to do something before this behavior consumed me and left me ineffective. I had to utilize strategies that I felt could be effective, and I had to give myself self-compassion as I figured out what worked for me during this time. I decided that I needed to see a therapist. Even though I am a therapist, I am also a human who was going through a tough time and needed to get some help.

Therapy worked for me. Prayers and guided meditation worked for me. These were the things in my control and they helped me cope.
Although we are still in this pandemic, I have learned a lot more about myself.

How are you figuring out what is triggering you and how you respond to those triggers? Also, as we all go through this, figuring out what works for us can help us. I had to be flexible in finding out what worked for me, because if something worked last month, that did not mean it would work now. I do not have it all figured out, and I am okay with that. I’m just happy that I have the awareness and the self-compassion needed for myself. We can’t control everything, so focus on what you can control.

Author: Cindy Danzell, Director of Counseling & Wellness