Between being cooped up with our partner 24/7, worrying about our parents’ health and trying to keep the kids occupied, the pandemic is really straining our mental health. Which is why we’ve been really grateful for our standing Friday morning appointment with our therapist lately. But we realize that not everyone has access to a therapist (although they totally should). So in an effort to “spread the wealth,” as this tweet so eloquently puts it, we asked nine women to share the best advice they’ve gotten from their therapists during this time. From breathing exercises to thought reframing techniques, here are the tips that have helped.
1. Choose smaller things to look forward to
“I was really upset when I realized that plans I had made for the fall would likely be affected by coronavirus, so my therapist told me to try reframing the things I am looking forward to so that they’re smaller. For example, looking forward to gorgeous weather over the weekend or having my boyfriend cook me a new recipe rather than planning any trips or trying to think about a time when things return to ‘normal.’”—Abby H.
2. Know that it’s OK to have two emotions at once
“My therapist told me ‘you can recognize how lucky you are and how much this sucks at the same time,’ and it really helped.”—Becca L.
3. Try not to worry just for the sake of worrying
“She told me that worrying is just a false sense of control and, as a perpetual worrier, my mind was totally blown.”—Caroline A.
4. Feel free to watch all the Netflix you want
“I’ve been bombarded with emails and social media posts telling me to be productive and use this time to discover, create and hustle. Fortunately, my saint of a therapist has reassured me that it’s perfectly fine to lay on the couch and binge The Office for the 100th time. As long as I’m doing things that make me happy and keep my anxiety at bay, then why wouldn’t I be doing these ‘mundane’ activities?”—Rachel G.
5. Start practicing mindfulness regularly
“My therapist suggested that I start practicing mindfulness regularly as a way to help me stay calm during this stressful and uncertain time. I’ve been loving the Headspace app. The guided meditations and mindfulness exercises have helped me a lot.”—Kayleigh H.
6. Remember that feelings are temporary
“I’ve been feeling kind of all over the place lately, and my therapist told me to remember that all feelings are temporary, and that I’m not irrational or erratic for feeling all of them.”—Natalie Z.
7. Be proud of yourself
“One morning, my therapist ended our Zoom session by reminding me that despite the circumstances, I’m managing pretty well. Living through a pandemic isn’t easy. Even making it through the day to day is something to be proud of.”—Kara C.
8. Learn how to do 4-7-8 breathing
“Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with anxiety and it feels like I can’t breathe. My therapist taught me the 4-7-8 breathing technique, and it really helps. You inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8. After I do it for a few rounds, my anxiety melts away.”—Lucy B.
9. Speak up about what you need in order to cope
“My husband was acting like a doomsday prepper and it was really stressing me out. My therapist suggested that when he gets into his planning mode that I just tell him, ‘When you say that, it makes me anxious.’ It sounds simple, but after a few weeks we totally got on the same page and haven’t really bugged each other because we started communicating more.”—Haley S.