Bessel Van Der Kolk recognizes and outlines the psychological toll being quarantined can take over time. Here is a summary of those conditions and what you can do to reduce the trauma of today.
- Lack of Predictability – no one is quite sure yet when all this being at home will end. When it does we don’t know what will open and what changes we will need to make and all of this makes life very unpredictable. Proactive move is to make a regular schedule at home you can keep, this allows us to anticipate what is predictable in our own life. Schedule something to look forward to like a movie night or zoom party.
- Immobility – while we are staying indoors our bodies may feel immobile and while our stress hormones may go up we have no way to reduce cortisol in our bodies. Proactive move is to do something with your body, go for a walk, run, hike outdoors, exercise in your home, practice the art of Tai Chi.
- Loss of Connection – we may miss seeing people in our old life like co workers, extended family, friends and this creates a feeling of not being seen and not being connected. Proactive move is make use of technology, set up those zoom get togethers, have a drive way or neighborhood visit for grandma with the baby. Call people who might not otherwise have a visit and stay connected to those you would normally.
- Loss of a Sense of Agency – When we lose our ability to choose what we do each day, visiting the grocery store, going on a date, having our hair appointment, we can begin to experience a numbing experience as though we might be shutting down. Proactive move is to practice some daily meditations to gain perspective and practice controlling our inner thoughts. If we can stop the ruminations of what we are not doing and replace them with a greater sense of detachment and freedom then this can help us regain our sense of agency.
- Loss of a Sense of Time and Sequence – is this Friday or Monday, is this Groundhog Day or what day it is when they all begin to be the same? Proactive move is to practice daily mindfulness choosing to focus our intentions on what is right before us. Take some time to increase our awareness of present moment that holds without regards to past or future events.
- Loss of Safety – are you safe in your body? in your home? when you go out in public? Are the places you travel to using safe practices to ensure your safety? Is your home a place where domestic violence is present? Is there a safe place you can go each day to be alone and uninterrupted? Proactive move is if you are not physically safe then call 1-800-799-SAFE or contact http://www.thehotline.org/help/ for immediate assistance. If you can set aside a small place in your home or apartment where you can be alone for an hour a day to be private this helps create boundaries for feeling safe.
- Loss of a Sense of Purpose – during this time you may think what you are doing is without meaning, without a long term goal or immediate results why participate? For those who have lost jobs or lost opportunities this set back is creating a loss of purpose. Proactive move is to see what opportunities you can gain from this time. Can you create something to express your loss, to express how you are feeling? Your art can serve others when you share it on social media, try writing, painting, cooking, sewing, or making music. Are you volunteering your time to help others during this time either formally or informally?