At the start of 2020 no one could ever have guessed how our lives would be changed. We started the year full of hope, and now 11 months later we have a quite different outlook on life. We have had to adapt and change at the drop of a hat, which for many of us has been a challenge. But, the biggest challenge of all has be the social distancing which has turned, in many cases, into social isolation. Social isolation is when we have near complete or complete lack of contact between ourselves and the outside world. #QuarantineLife has shown up on many people social media as a joke or something to think of as humorous. However, it has become a dangerous situation and has led many of us feeling alone, isolated, and afraid. Currently, many of us are working from home, are not seeing as many friends or family, or not seeing our older family members at all.
While isolation is bad for everyone, it is especially bad for those with trauma. “Trauma is anything less than nurturing that changes your vision of yourself and your place in the world” - Judy Crane. Trauma and the associated diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma makes it hard to connect or trust others. It makes people feel on edge or numb. It adds another layer to the difficulties of making connections. And while connection is exactly what those with trauma need, it can feel impossible to get. It can also increase the number and the severity of the symptoms that people with trauma already have. Depression and anxiety can feel worse. Trauma survivors struggle with concentrating more and getting day to day living done.
So, what do we do? The battle seems like an uphill one that cannot be won. However, there are steps right now you can take to help cope with your trauma during this time of social distancing and isolation.
Try connecting with others even if its only through the phone, or face time. Find outdoor events that you can go to with others, while still social distancing (e.g. having coffee at an outdoor coffee shop). Return the phone calls and missed texts even when you do not want to. The key to overcoming isolating is to start connecting even when you do not want to.
Along with connection is a daily commitment to yourself to engage with others. Yes, I said it, daily. Try to connect with others daily, not just one day a week or when you are feeling like it. Connection is an ongoing process that we must actively participate in, not something to be check off a to do list.
Self-care is not just about massages and pedicures. It is about doing things that fill you up. What activities help you recharge? Often it will not be zoning out to Netflix but other activities that really engage your mind.
Some days we get out of bed, eat healthy and go to the gym. Other days we watch Netflix and order pizza. Be compassionate to yourself and where you are each day. Try to do one thing to help yourself every day. Little steps add up.
Lastly, when that is not enough seek professional help. Sometimes we need an outside source to help us see the light and to get better. Be compassionate and know that everyone needs help at some point in their lives.