We are living in unprecedented times, in just over a couple of weeks our world as we know it has changed.
Right now we are experiencing a global trauma.
Not only is this pandemic related to our physical well being but our mental health as well. We are all in this together and while this fosters a sense of solidarity, the experience of what we are going through varies greatly. With feelings of anger, disbelief, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness and confusion; many can already see the traumatic impact COVID-19 is having.
1. Processing Trauma with Online Therapy
Ideally we’d be able to have a therapeutic talk with friends about what’s been happening with COVID-19. The challenge is that not everyone shares the same feelings on this issue, and those that do don’t necessarily want to spend more time thinking or talking about it.
People are struggling with what they are seeing and hearing in the news, both locally and globally.
It can feel damn near impossible to open a web-page or social media without hearing about confirmed new cases, reported deaths, health care workers dressed in full personal protection gear, countries with the highest death toll or even mass graves.
While we may feel safe in the isolation of our own homes, we are all susceptible to experiencing the trauma of what we are witnessing.
It can be difficult to process what we are seeing with people who may be experiencing trauma from the same thing. Additionally, if we already have a history of trauma it is likely that the stress from this pandemic can bring up familiar feelings of powerlessness, lack of control and feeling unsafe.
Transitioning to online therapy can allow you to process the ever changing landscape of COVID-19 and having a space to freely process your thoughts and feelings. Doing this in a safe space without feeling judged or worrying how the conversation will weigh on the therapist is important and should also help you connect the triggers to existing feelings of vulnerability or traumas.
2. Managing Fear & Anxiety With Online Therapy
Let’s face it, when someone is speaking about anything COVID-19 related it is not typically positive .
If you are someone who was already working in therapy to address challenges with anxiety it can be even more important now to transition to online therapy. This can be used as a way not only to learn about your anxiety and how to manage it, but also ensure that it can continue during a stressful time.
For those that are taking this pandemic seriously, we can be on hyper alert. We can feel heightened awareness of our proximity to others, what we have touched or if someone close-by coughs and is not wearing a mask.
Our anxiety creates a hyper vigilance as a way of trying to protect us from something bad happening. Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing that our brain is doing, the challenge comes when the anxiety and fear becomes all consuming or can feel paralyzing.
Every person has a different anxiety or fear of how the Corona-virus could impact their life, either imminently or long-term. Your fear is normal.
What you want to ensure is that it is not impacting your ability to carry about your daily life without feeling out of control or paralyzed with fear. Online therapy can help you acknowledge what is valid about your fear and what might be catastrophizing.
Those that may be struggling with anxiety may already find the idea of having to leave their house stressful for a variety of reasons, the obvious advantage of online therapy is that you can address your feelings of anxiety without having to add to it by leaving your own home.
3. Manage Grief Via Online Therapy
Anxiety, fear, depression and trauma are not the only reason to explore online therapy. Another common theme in the trauma of COVID-19 is a great sense of loss. Loss of job or career, income, freedom, saving plans, retirement plans, small businesses, dream vacations, milestone events – weddings, completing schools degrees, baby showers, retirement parties, anniversaries, graduations and worst of all the actual loss of someone we love.
The reality is that COVID-19 has the ability to drastically change aspects of our lives instantly. Plans that were otherwise in progress not too long ago, can seem like an impossible dream. Whether it is the loss of a loved one or our personal dreams, these losses can leave us feeling completely devastated and in grief.
In order to grieve properly you must go through it, not around it. Grief can sometimes be too hard to handle on our own, and can be too difficult to process with family members or friends who just do not understand the depth of your loss.
While it can be difficult to manage such strong feelings of loss, online therapy is a great avenue to have someone help you navigate these feelings. With online therapy you begin to untangle the wide range of feelings associated with your loss and how this loss will impact your life.
4. Adapting to Change With an Online Therapist
Change can be hard, especially when it’s unexpected, sudden and drastic. The ways in which people have had to adapt to change started off simple, wash your hands and stay home if you’re sick.
Suddenly, we have to stay away from the ones we love, work from home, home-school, stay away from parks, use PPE at work, be constantly vigilant of our distance to others and cancel big plans and events.
Although online therapy can become another area to adapt to (especially if you are used to in person therapy), online therapy is a great place to explore how you can adapt and maybe even embrace or take advantage of the changes that are out of our control.
5. Addressing Abuse or Dependence of Substances with Online Counselling
We are all susceptible to developing dependency because we all have reward centers in our brain.
It does not mean we have an ‘addiction’ but when we notice a change in how we consume something we should be paying attention. Whether its marijuana, alcohol, video games, pornography or food, our everyday pleasurable habits that were well balanced can slowly develop into more serious ways of coping.
Stress management, pleasure seeking, feelings of boredom and habitual behavior are some of the reasons we have certain outlets that we might use through a rough day or week.
What we all need to be paying attention to is when those outlets become consistently out of balance. If you are starting to notice that you ‘need’ your outlet in order to feel good, this is a sign.
The desire to feel good when we are in a time of continual stress is not unreasonable, what you might want to explore in online therapy is if you feel that there is the belief that the only way to feel good is to consistently depend on and overuse any given substance.
Discussing with a therapist can help you assess if the change in your habits have become consistent and could be problematic.
6. Managing Feelings of Depression with Online Therapy
COVID-19 is impacting our mental health by increasing feelings of anxiety, fear, through witnessing or experiencing trauma, personal experiences with loss and grief, and having to adapt to constant change. It is understandable that this would trigger feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.
For those who are starting to feel like they do not have a reason to get out of bed, who find they are lacking self care, fresh or healthy food at the grocery store, lacking connection with loved ones, experiencing a loss of joy and excitement, feeling cooped up, starting to feel bored or restless and use sleep as a way to pass time – it is ever so important that you pay attention to your overall wellness and mental health.
Experiencing a lost sense of purpose or power in your own life can be a sign that depression could be creeping up.
If you begin to feel as though you are no longer feeling a reason to live, noticing thoughts or feeling that you want to die or if you are thinking of or planning ways to harm yourself, contact your family doctor immediately. If you are feeling that you cannot wait until your doctor’s appointment because it feels more urgent, call your local crisis line for support and guidance.
If you are a resident of Ontario you can contact ‘HERE 24/7’ at 1-844-437-3247. If you need immediate support call 911 and get to the hospital immediately.
Why Online Counselling is Important
The harsh reality is that there is so much going on in the world and COVID-19 has made a lot of drastic changes.
It’s likely that someone you care about is experiencing the challenges from COVID-19 or you are experiencing your own impact on a very personal level.
Therapy can at times be a difficult process and even a vulnerable one, the thought of adapting to online therapy can also present its own challenges. The truth is though you don’t have to wait for the pandemic to be over before you start to consider how online therapy might benefit you.
If you are starting to notice that your mental health is being impacted, consider exploring the benefits online therapy.
Whether it’s because of trauma, fear and anxiety, grief, depression, adapting to change or increased use of dependency it is important that you do not wait for things to return to normal to work through these rough times, especially if you don’t feel you have support.
Online therapy can provide a lot of the great services and quality professionals that you would normally experience with in-person counselling sessions.
There has been a lot of research that makes a strong argument that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. Consider giving it a chance to help manage through these unprecedented times.
Trillium Counselling provides counselling services in the Kitchener Waterloo area. Contact us today for a consultation or to book an appointment!