This post comes after a string of initial appointments with prospective clients who’ve found validation from the simple vocalization of their lived stressors during the past year. The basic assessment question – “what made you decide to reach out for therapy now?” – typically leads to responses about how past experiences or future worries impact current suffering but this year, especially, has been a change of pace. I challenge you to consider practicing one, or all, of the practices below:
Reflect – Create time to acknowledge what is and has been allows us to develop awareness of where we are now and how we’d like to move forward.
Reflect on what your experiencing right now, in this moment – what are your physical sensations? What emotions are present? What thoughts are intruding / passing / stuck?
Reflect on your experience of the holidays – how did they compare to years past? Did you make sacrifices to develop or maintain rituals? How did your stress level compare to years past? What emotions were present and how does that compare to years past?, what’s present for you right now as you reflect on the holidays?
Reflect on your experience of the pandemic – what was your perspective of the pandemic in early March and how does that relate to your perspective of it now? What have you lost? What have you gained? What thoughts / emotions come up as you reflect on your lived experience?
Reflect on your year – were there commitments or expectations you set for yourself? How did you respond to any setbacks you may have experienced? Are there any moments you would chose to change if you could? What thoughts / emotions come up as you reflect on your lived experience?
Restore – We talk a lot about “self-care” and “coping techniques” but what does that really mean? Well, I like to think of actions that provide a sense of soothing security – this could be a ritual, routine, or regulation technique. Some might feel restored by a good work out, talk with a friend, viewing of a beloved TV episode or series, spa service, good meal, engaging in a creative pursuit, attending a religious service, or even clearing off a to-do list item that’s been sitting unchecked for a long time. But, as mentioned above, maybe even the act of acknowledging what you’ve experienced can be restorative. I often say “anything can be therapy if it helps you heal” and I think that applies here too.
Recommit – it isn’t therapy if there’s no plan for treatment and it’s difficult to achieve a goal if one’s never set (or if it’s too big to feel achievable)! I think that last part is especially crucial – don’t commit to life changes that you can’t imagine having the resources or overcoming the barriers to realize. Maybe your reflection has led you to recommit to those resolutions from last New Year’s; to achieve some new personal or professional goal; or to practice acceptance of what’s present in any given moment.
Whatever you decide I hope you’ll commit to being kind to your body, being gentle with your self, and being compassionate to those around you.