COVID-19 Staying Connected: Weeks 10-12

Week 12 (First 11 Weeks below) Business first:  I unexpectedly had to move my website and in the process re-design it.  If you want to subscribe for infrequent updates, please do!  These weekly emails I am sending will not be weekly as we move into Phase 3, and I will likely return to blog posts, here and there, with updates.  Please subscribe here:  www.lynnzakeri.com/#subscribe  (and feel free to forward this email to anyone who might find it helpful or useful)
Last week I touched on the idea of trauma, and that no matter what you experienced in the past 3 months, you likely experienced a level of trauma.  How you come out of it depends on a few factors.  Are you a victim of COVID-19?  Are you an Essential Worker?  Are you a student or teacher?  Are you a human (who does not fall into the above three categories)?  This attached article will tell you more, but some relevant points and my own thoughts on it include:

  1. We are perhaps feeling positive, even euphoric about returning to “life as we knew it” and as these feelings of euphoria dissipate, what we endured the past 3 months may “rear it’s ugly head” and lead to more of a PTSD response
  2. We were perhaps forced to maintain a high level of functioning the past 3 months and now as we return to life as we knew it, we are spent, exhausted, and drained and need to care for ourselves more than ever
  3. What we adapted to in our pre-March existence, whether as a student, worker, shopper…as a participant in society, we have to not only re-adapt, but we have to learn new ways of simply being in these environments

So often, distressful feelings get better and are not only endurable but they can actually dissipate by talking about it.  I see it in my office daily.  An editorial in the paper last week talked about veterans, but this sentence is worth repeating in general:  If the patient tells a little bit of truth, the patient gets a little bit better. If the patient tells a lot of truth, the patient gets a lot better. The reason this works is because the human spirit longs to be understood. Without feeling that there is at least one other person who understands us — who sees us in all our splendor and our shame — we cannot be well.  https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-memorial-day-mental-health-veterans-20200522-5llu5afqbfhxzfbchfnt5yqho4-story.html
Talk about your feelings.
And on a more serious note, MSN published an article about increased suicide attempts (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/e2-80-98a-year-e2-80-99s-worth-of-suicide-attempts-in-the-last-four-weeks-e2-80-99-california-doctor-calls-for-end-to-lockdown/ar-BB14sPHh?fbclid=IwAR1y-zo1hcgr6Is15iFKM942owcgkkSsYU061uZDvz0JSpfu7nGzYsJSKY8), our crisis hotlines are reporting an increase of 74% and I even read an increase of 1,000 percent in another article.  I know that even many of the most resilient of you, have been feeling stuck.  Or worse.  Remember, we may have pressed pause on our lives in March, but we don’t have to press resume.  We can focus on a new start.  Who are you Post-Pandemic?  Who were you before, and who will you be?  What habits are you shedding and what new healthy ones are you taking with you?  

Until next time, keep doing what you have control over, and start with your breathing.  For more info on how to even do that, here you go:  How The ‘Lost Art’ Of Breathing Can Impact Sleep And Resilience
Read in NPR: https://apple.news/AQ7UEHUpIS0WlR08WExMlXA

Week 11 (Previous 10 below) This is my second to last weekly update email.  I hope to send more after next Sunday, 5/31, but for the month of June I am going to take take a few steps back as the state and country open up parameters a phase at a time.  
Has anyone else noticed that the word grief in their minds, in their feelings, has perhaps been replaced by trauma?  Trauma had been redefined for me years ago when someone explained it like this:Your brain is on a train track with a destination in mind.  All of the sudden, the tracks are covered in a down tree, and you must find a new way.  The unexpected tree can be a trauma or an obstacle or an opportunity depending on, well, about 100 different variables.While reintegration can be traumatizingly familiar for some of us, this week I am focusing on some practical ideas:According to Bruce Perry, trauma expert, you can deal with trauma using 3 steps, in this order:
1. Regulate emotions:
–Create some structure and predictability: make routines, plan your day.
–Institute some kinds of movement, even for 5 minutes, several times a day. Use patterned, repetitive activity, like walking.
–Limit (dose) incoming information, and be sure the source is reliable.
–Pay attention to breathing: becoming aware, mindful.
–Allow your mind to rest: stop doing and trying, sit and do nothing for a bit (i.e., meditate).
–Journal or write about your experience.
2. Relate to someone, somehow:
–Contact someone you care about or who cares about you.
–Do movement with someone (this gives you TWO tools!).
–Do lovingkindness meditation.  Begin with yourself, and then move to each person in your life.
–Write a letter.
–Ask for help.
–Avoid dysregulating relationship experience; try not to give time or attention to people who generate negative emotion that impacts you badly.
3. Reason
–Distinguish what you can know from speculation or worry.
–Only accept credible sources of information.
–Acknowledge uncertainty and lack of control. Have compassion for the experience for yourself and other people.
–Recognize that many great minds are working on the problem.
–Remember other times you have managed difficult situations.
–Remind yourself that everything can be all right, even after a trauma.

I know feeling some angst and even anxiety over this new reintegration is overwhelming for some.  Remember when, back in March, we said to friends and family “I will be OK if we are just permitted to still…X”… Well, try to remember those feelings.  There are reasons we identified with those X things.  We are different, but we are strong, I would even say resilient.   Here was an NPR article that was helpful as well: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/23/861325631/from-camping-to-dining-out-heres-how-experts-rate-the-risks-of-14-summer-activit

Until next week, think some more about your resilience.  What do you need to keep going?  Here are some more common answers, but really, it is all about you.• Ask for help • Donate/Volunteer• Reach out to someone who may need you• Set boundaries for yourself  • Set goals each day and follow a daily schedule• Make a gratitude list • Develop a project, read a book, paint, knit, woodwork…Do an activity!
• Schedule worry time • Journal
• Express your feelings
• Set a sleep routine • Do something active:  walk, yoga, etc 
Many of you have heard me prioritize the 4 basic essentials:  Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise and when you have these 3, the fourth falls into place:  Connections with people who bring out the version of you that you like best.If you are having trouble liking yourself very much lately, this would be a good time to reach out, to a friend, loved one, or a therapist.
Warmly,Lynn

Week 10 (Previous 9 weeks in previous blog post) Sad and maybe even not sad but actually feeling that depressed feeling lately?
Last week the UN warned of a global mental health crisis–death, disease, isolation, poverty, anxiety…
You are not alone with this, and I can’t stress enough that reaching out to loved ones, support systems, therapists is not a gift to yourself.  It is being a human asking for what you deserve.
Feeling frustrated with uncertain time frames, mandated restraints, and the forced inability to plan ahead?  Reframe:  instead of a list of what you want to do, compile a list of what you don’t want to forget this Spring. Looking even further ahead, when the fall comes, what do you want your word of summer to be?
For those grieving…for those who are worried, sad, scared, and devastated…my longtime friend Karen Purze wrote an article about complicated grief last week (which you can read in it’s entirety here: https://medium.com/@kpurze/will-complicated-grief-be-the-next-wave-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-c195dc6b8757)  A great takeaway from it were her questions and answers here:   instead of thinking about how I might die alone in a hospital, I’m asking:
Can I do something to keep my family safe? Yes.
Can I do something to prepare in case of an emergency? Yes.
Can I do something to make my own wishes clear in case of a serious illness? I can.
I’ve found that beyond that, there is acceptance.
And I can live with that. to always 
This article caught my attention- I loved how the writer talked of his relationship with his therapist, and I loved *the relationship* they had.https://www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/obituary-for-the-analyst-richard-c-friedman-and-the-quelling-of-my-depression

What a find and I am sorry I did not have this to send you earlier- trusted news sources, distraction tips, weekly planners… At least skim through this attached workbook when you have a second.  If you don’t find at least one piece helpful, I would be surprised.
Warmly, as always,Lynn
PS The Chicago Tribune is celebrating Senior Week for graduating seniors.  I was honored to be included in one article, which should be in print this week:  https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-life-coronavirus-senior-week-how-parents-cope-20200515-dtw2w63vi5hhvkxf5gpo43fuge-story.html

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