by Amy Jackson,
ParTNers Center behavioral health counselor
When you fall and scrape your knee, there's visual evidence of the trauma. It’s easy to know what to do to treat it. You can see your wound healing, and you know when it’s safe to return to normal activities.
Unfortunately, emotional trauma does not follow such a predictable process. COVID-19 has left many of us reeling and with conflicting emotions. This can be described as emotional trauma. As the world begins to open and life returns to “normal,” you may feel burned out, tired, confused or unsure how to live life. Unlike a scrape on the knee, there is no tried-and-true course of healing from an unexpected event like a pandemic.
Put another way, there is no normal reaction to an abnormal event.
June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. This observance is timely given the challenges of the past year. I encourage you to use this time to reflect on your personal experience.
How are you feeling as we begin to integrate back into our regular lives? You may relate to some of the common effects of PTSD, including:
Avoiding activities you used to enjoy
Having racing thoughts
Feeling “on” all the time
Being unable to relax
Feeling anxious, negative or depressed
Here are some tips to help you in this transition:
Be easy on yourself. For the past year, many of us greatly reduced our social obligations. It is okay to say no to a social engagement if you need to recharge. Pay attention to any isolating behaviors, but also don’t force yourself into situations if you’re craving self-care.
Focus on the good things that came out of the pandemic. For some people, the pandemic allowed for more family time, more time to cultivate new hobbies or activities, and more attention to self-care. This does not have to stop! Continue to prioritize the things in your life that you enjoyed while socially isolating.
Ask for what you need and respect your boundaries and those of others. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to COVID-19. As you re-enter the workspace, focus on communicating your boundaries confidently and kindly, and ensure mutual respect to those around you. When you pay attention to boundaries, you can reduce burnout and resentment.
Talk to someone. One thing 2020 taught us is that mental health matters. You don’t have to go through this difficult transition alone. As the ParTNers Center’s behavioral health counselor, I offer free onsite counseling services through the ParTNers Employee Assistance Program and your behavioral health benefits.
Amy sees patients at the ParTNers Center Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, both in person and via telehealth. Call 615-741-1709 if you would like to make an appointment.