How are you doing during this time of social distancing during a worldwide pandemic? We’ve transitioned to providing online counseling in Atlanta during coronavirus social distancing efforts, and I’ve noticed some things within myself and my clients.

Now, for some this is a time during which their perfectionism and overachieving is in full gear. They are the ones eating all the healthy food, probably working out too much, setting schedules, etc. That comes with it’s own strengths and areas of concern. But, this article is probably not talking to you.

This article is for the people who are noticing themselves going to comforting behaviors that are unhealthy from an indulgent standpoint. Have you noticed yourself eating five bags of chips in one sitting, or going for greasy unhealthy pizza five days in a row, or opening bottles of wine every night? How about binge watching Netflix for ten days even though it’s nothing you really would want to watch?

Some of this is very familiar for me. And as an Atlanta therapist providing online counseling during coronavirus social distancing efforts, I’ve forced myself to take note of it and become aware. And, since I’m so passionate about what I do, I’m sharing some of my tips with you.

  1. Avoid judging. Notice if you’re judging yourself for the millionth time, and take a look at if that’s helpful. Usually the answer is no. Judgment can often lead to shame. Instead of judging, take a stance of considering how one might respond to someone who is experiencing a trauma (since all of us are experiencing the collective trauma of dealing with a worldwide pandemic.) If you were talking to someone who was dealing with trauma, you may not choose to speak to them in judgment. That doesn’t mean you don’t give them wisdom. Maybe wisdom says that TV isn’t helping for ten days in a row. Or maybe it says, that pizza would be more helpful to your brain and body if it wasn’t greasy and had spinach on it. However, wisdom sounds different than judgment.
  2. Speak to yourself with empathy. Again, empathy still uses wisdom. It just sounds validating, maybe gentle, caring. It might sound like ‘I’m feeling sad and I’m reaching for my 6th bag of Doritos and it makes sense that I’m sad because ….XYZ….happened and it would be natural to be upset about this. And, I know that my body could use some fuel from nutrients that aren’t provided in pizza. Maybe I’ll have some vegetables and fruit and water since I’m probably dehydrated. (side note ya’ll my FAVORITE CHIPS ARE DORITOS if you can’t tell).
  3. Think about balance, and consider how you can implement balance. If you’re struggling with avoiding certain behaviors, then consider if you could use more balance. Maybe you have pizza two nights instead of 10. Maybe you binge on junk tv one day and the next you watch documentaries or you puzzle or dance instead. Maybe you decide to only consume two glasses of alcohol on the weekends instead of a bottle in a couple of days.
  4. Get some accountability. If we keep things a secret, or avoid them, they may get worse. So, tell some nonjudgmental friends or family about it, and ask for the accountability you’re willing to take. I like to text wins to my friends. So, I’ll say ‘I ran two miles today, and ate a whole pizza by myself last night and also ate cookies, and ate Doritos.’ Then I may ask them to check in on me tomorrow and see if I ate veggies since I didn’t get any in today. And remember that your Atlanta therapist who is doing online counseling during coronavirus social distancing can also serve as someone you can talk this out with.
  5. Know your triggers. Ya’ll, I don’t think I’ve ever spent three weeks at home without going anywhere in my entire live. I’m more of an extrovert, and the most face time I’m getting right now is with my clients since this Atlanta counselor is doing online counseling during coronavirus efforts. But outside of that, I’ve had no adult interaction other than what I get at home. And that’s just not my usual. Plus, I enjoy adventure and new experiences. So, boredom has been a trigger. Anxiousness has been too. So has worry and the unknown. I’ve had so many triggers and I just want to comfort myself with the Doritos, and the binge watching, and all the unhealthy things ALL OF THE TIME (which is the main problem since none of these things some of the time are harmful in my mind.) So, know your triggers so you can manage them.
  6. Find healthy coping skills for your triggers. We’ve got to get really creative here since a lot of our triggers have been removed. I’ve had to replace going to the gym with working out in my living room and running (both of which are way less social than I prefer.) And, I’ve done this because I know the research on how exercise helps manage mental health symptoms. Find things to do in the house that help you cope. Maybe take a bath, or sip on soothing hot tea. Maybe make cooking dinner a fun experience, and try and add healthy nutrients to all meals. Maybe take naps, or snuggle in comfy blankets. Maybe puzzle, or learn Beyonce’s put a ring on it dance. GET CREATIVE. You may feel resistant to these things, and that’s okay. Lean in, and just try them out. If you don’t like it after five minutes, try something else.
  7. Pick up a new hobby. As an therapist providing online counseling in Atlanta during coronavirus efforts, I’ve made this suggestion a time or two, or 100. Sometimes building mastery of something helps with managing symptoms of mental health. The other day we were doing a puzzle at the house, and I youtubed puzzle competition. Did you know that exists???? Maybe you knit, or learn to tut (look it up on Youtube. It’s a form of dancing with your hands and is relevant to hip hop.) Learn to salsa dance, or cook a meal, or do couples yoga poses, or take engaging pictures.

Okay, these are just some suggestions. As you know, it can be helpful to speak to a counselor if you’re struggling during this time. Feel free to reach out and schedule with one of our team members.