The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives in many ways, straining our mental and emotional health. To get through this crisis, psychologist Amee Dassani recommends maintaining a routine, spending time in nature, limiting your information consumption, and practicing mindfulness. This can be as simple as paying attention to your emotions, identifying where they are in your body, and giving yourself permission to release them.
“It’s good to actually feel what you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to last very long, but if you start sensing that you’re feeling some sadness or pain or past trauma, just feel it. Allow it to come up and name the feeling.”
It is OK to feel joy, anger, fear, stress, or anything else you may experience during this time. Be kind to yourself!
ABOUT THE GUEST:
Amee Dassani is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been practicing in the Chicago area for more than 15 years. She worked with children in a school setting for many years, focusing on depression, anxiety and mindfulness. Now she runs an all-online practice where she works primarily with adults dealing with depression, chronic pain and trauma. Her techniques include meditation and mindfulness, visual imagery, sensing to relieve stuck trauma, and more.
KEY RESOURCES REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Headspace: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app
- Calm: https://www.calm.com/
- Sounds True: https://www.soundstrue.com/store/
- Down Dog: https://www.downdogapp.com/
Social, website, book link:
- What we’re collectively experiencing now is an external trauma. Amee has been encouraging her clients to maintain morning and nighttime routines — waking up at the same time every day, taking showers, exercising or spending time in nature, and going to bed at the same time every night.
- Consume news only for a set amount of time each day. Try your state or city’s daily briefing, 30 minutes of NPR while making dinner, or one episode of a podcast.
- Mindfulness practice can help you stay focused on the present moment rather than thinking about a future that feels very uncertain.
- Pay attention to your feelings, name them, identify where they are in your body, and try to let them pass without judgment. Noting what you feel emotionally and physically can help you release that discomfort.
- Amee’s highly sensitive clients often really like working from home. Moving forward, she’s hopeful that work schedules will become more flexible to accommodate personal and family lives.
- A lot of parents are afraid that they aren’t saying the right things to their children. Amee recommends being honest about what is happening in an age-appropriate way, and understanding that kids will need space to navigate their own feelings too.
- You may notice stress in your kids through the way they play. If you see themes of stress and anxiety, try to talk to them about those feelings.
- To quickly calm yourself throughout the day, Amee says, put your hand on your heart. Inhale for a count of five, hold it for a count of five, and then blow it out as if you’re blowing out a candle. Do this a few times and note how you feel before and after.
- A slightly longer calming practice is a progressive muscle relaxation. Start with your head, tense it, release it, and take some deep breaths. Then move downward through your body. Scan yourself for places where you’re holding onto tension and release it.
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If you loved this episode, here’s another I know you’ll enjoy too! Episode 3: The Psychology of Money with Shanta Kanukollu
IMPACTFUL QUOTES FROM AMEE:
“When you’re in a crisis like this — it could be on a personal level, but this is more of a collective level — a lot of times we come out stronger in a lot of ways.”
“For people who are really anxious… these are very trying times, and it’s going to bring up a lot of things that may have happened in the past.”
“Realize that this is a time when you may be experiencing a lot of grief, because you’re re-experiencing things that have happened in the past.”
“It’s OK to sit with the emotion. One of the things that I say is, instead of just pushing it down, it’s good to actually feel what you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to last very long, but if you start sensing that you’re feeling some sadness or pain or past trauma, just feel it. Allow it to come up and name the feeling.”
“I think it’s really important to just go easy on ourselves. The concept of shame has come up a lot. Like, ‘I should be cooking that new recipe’ or ‘all these people are cooking and doing all of these amazing things and I’m just not doing enough.’ This is a really hard and challenging time, so taking time to just feel good and have joy throughout the day is kind of important. A lot of people ask, ‘how can I feel joy during these times?’ And I think that’s kind of where the shame comes in — if I accomplish all these things I’ll feel better. It’s a way of distracting. Just realize that, it’s OK to watch Netflix for two hours, if you’re not doing everything with your children and teaching them all throughout the day.”
“Having routines and building good memories during this time is really important, and you can build good memories.”