Finding Tiny Moments of Joy
Higher bills, less space, back and body aches…
It’s not just you. This year took a toll.
Written by: Marina Affo
Published in the Delaware News Journal
Read the full article >>>
Lack of socialization is a big theme for many stuck at home during this time. While some have been able to deal with it, there are many that are experiencing increased mental health issues as a result.
“Collective trauma is when a trauma happens to a group,” said Basha Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Family Services of Delaware.
She said the pandemic is one such event, while other examples include school shootings or events like 9/11. Right now, as everyone is isolated and having to watch people get sick and die, the greater community is experiencing a collective trauma.
As a result, the psychiatry and case management nonprofit now has 90 people on its waitlist for services. Before the pandemic, it usually had three or four.
And everyone is experiencing this trauma differently, she said, especially depending on what people do for their professions. Front-line health care workers are seeing different experiences than teachers, as are other occupations.
“There’s the saying, ‘We’re all in the same boat.’ That’s actually not true,” Silverman said. “We’re all in the same storm. But we have different boats.”
The stress from this ongoing pandemic can manifest in different ways, said outpatient therapist Padmaja Charya, also at Jewish Family Services of Delaware.
“Having to cope with the unknown can lead to hopelessness, powerlessness and also just depression,” she said.
Charya, who sees children as young as 2 up to adults, said if people don’t have the tools to deal with these feelings, it can lead to atypical behavior like anger outbursts, irritability and frustration. This can then also lead to issues like inability to focus, nightmares, poor sleep and poor appetite, among others.
“Some of these behaviors are also what we see in trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because this can be a very traumatic time and is a very traumatic time for many of us,” Charya said.
To help, she often advises people dealing with these emotions to tell themselves it is OK to be feeling this way – whether it be scared, anxious, angry or hopeless.
“Feeling those emotions is not wrong,” Charya said. “There are ways to work through those emotions and, of course, counseling is one avenue. But for those who don’t feel comfortable with counseling, it’s OK to process your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust.”
She said this can be a co-worker, a friend or a family member.
Charya also noticed that many people have said they’ve lost interest in activities. She encourages them to engage in tiny activities that bring them joy instead.
“Giving yourself 30 minutes to watch your favorite show or take a longer shower or just sitting and doing nothing,” she said.
She also said people can try a 4-7-8 breathing exercise. This technique involves breathing in for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds, then breathing out of the mouth for eight seconds.
“It’s kind of slowing your heart rate,” she said, “and when you’re slowing your heart rate, it’s sending the message to your brain and your body that it’s OK, it’s time to relax.”
And while many are struggling, Charya said that a year later she has also seen many of her clients feeling a greater sense of hope now that vaccines are available.
“They are seeing that it is possible to get through this and although it might not return exactly how it used to be, we’re also not where we were a year ago,” she said. “They realize that they’re a lot more resilient than they thought they would be.”
If you or someone you know needs help:
Jewish Family Services of Delaware:
(302) 478-9411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Get started today by completing our online intake form.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Delaware Hope Line: (833) 9-HOPEDE, or (833) 946-7333