Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.– William Shakespeare
We have been working through and dealing with very trying times in the past six months. It feels like the hard work we do does not get us anywhere and we are surrounded by voices telling us there is no hope. There is good news in all of this, however. We, as a society, have all been through this before and we will get through it now.
There is a typical way we as a people, react to disasters. Early in a crisis or disaster, we find ourselves feeling disoriented and confused. We feel the threat and hear the warnings and feel the impact on our emotional state. Early in the process we become depressed, anxious, and generally depressed.
We often find, not long after the onset of the disaster or crisis, a phase of hopefulness and heroism. We have seen this with COVID-19. People were coming together and supporting health care workers. We were showing the survivors of COVID-19 leaving the hospital for home. We saw children scrolling positive messages on our side walks.
Soon thereafter, we enter a long phase of disillusionment. Our emotional energy and mood begin to drop. We become despondent and feel that things will never get better. It is not unusual during this phase of our response, to find we have less tolerance for stress. Our mood seems “short”. It is hard to deal with conflict and things start to feel overwhelming. It is important during this time, to focus on self-care.
Some of the things we can do to take care of ourselves include getting enough sleep, exercise, nutrition and have some fun. There was an article recently in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association about pandemic fatigue. When facing the question, “what can psychoanalysis say to the pandemic and pandemic fatigue?”, the writer suggests that giving some time during the day to let the mind wander is part of the self-care we can all actively engage in. taking a walk and thinking about “nothing in particular” can be an important way to engage in self-care that involves both the body and the mind. We will get through this and as the governor of Kentucky says, “we will get through this together”.
—Stephen M, Taylor, M. D.