The constant hardships and stressors of the pandemic have resulted in a prolonged state of stress for our nervous systems and has led many of us to operate in a type of “survival mode.”
Survival mode is difficult, yet so is moving out of it. Transitioning from surviving to processing comes with it’s own set of complications. Often, new problems that had previously been covered up or pushed aside may rise to the surface. Big and heavy questions can emerge and the grieving process begins.
How do I process what just happened to me? How do I grieve? What does processing even look like on a day to day basis?
If you are like me, the questions above might be rolling over in your mind. Unfortunately, processing and grief are both complex processes and there is no “right way” to do it. While there is no “right” way, setting time aside to pause and reflect is typically very helpful..
To aid with this process, the following are some reflection questions to consider.
I encourage you to carve out time to sit with, journal about, or discuss these questions.
1.What is it that I have lost over the past year?
In order to grieve, it helps us to know what we are grieving. Identifying that which we have lost over the past year can be a great first step. I encourage you to not just think of the physical things you may have lost (i.e. a job, a person, etc.) but to also consider the roles, identity pieces, or intangible things you may have lost (i.e. a role as provider for your family, a felt sense that the world is safe, how you are able to spend your time, etc.). Acknowledging what we have lost is integral to processing our experience.
2. Who is in my support system? How can I incorporate and prioritize spending time with the people who care about my process and health?
Community is a protective factor for transitions. Having a safe place to process is essential as we heal. Take some time to think about who you would like to spend your time with and who you would like to process with. Whether it’s friends, family, a counselor or a church community, make space in your schedule to spend time with people who will encourage your healing and health.
3. How can I be kind to myself in this time?
Our internal critic is often very mean. We will talk to ourselves in ways we would never dream of talking to friends. Although this part of us is just trying to help, harsh internal language and telling ourselves to “suck it up” can actually prolong our process, not speed it up. Instead, try to brainstorm ways to be kind and gentle to yourself as you navigate these unprecedented times. Give yourself permission to be where you are in your process.
**The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).