Now, More Than Ever

by Cheri Spiczka, LCPC

With the current tumultuous political, racial, academic, environmental and pandemic climate we are in, it is safe to say people are struggling more than ever with mental health, relationships and staying positive.  Daily, we are inundated with news, social media, emails, articles and even texts offering difficult news and differing opinions. Our digital and in-person interactions with neighbors, family and friends can become fraught with conflicting and strongly opinionated views related to the onslaught of topics mentioned above. Long gone are neighborhood get-togethers to let the kids play and the parents catch up and relax together, where discussing the weather or how your child’s game went last weekend is as deep as conversations would go.  More than ever it is important, no essential, for us to learn to be patient, open minded, positive, supportive and encouraging to one another because we are all pushed to our limits in these unprecedented times.

An article in the October 2020 Psychology Today magazine stated, “In uncertain times, relationships matter even more. When the world is chaotic, we turn to our partners for security and stability.” They spoke of a study in which when words like “racism” or “protest” are high in peoples’ internet searches, people are more likely to need to turn to their trusted relationships to “satisfy their need for security, acceptance, and love. The world is certainly uncertain right now. A global pandemic, economic recession and sociopolitical turmoil have been heaped onto all of our usual problems.” The question, then, is: how can we better support and encourage one another to keep fighting for what is healthy and good for our world, when we are fighting with our loved ones about different views on passionate, important issues? As the article says, “we need love now, more than ever”.

It is safe to say people need to talk about and process what they are going through. The last thing we need to do is be negative, closed minded, critical or judgmental to those who come to us for support. How can you really listen to the thoughts and feelings of another person if your own emotions are surging and you are planning your “attack” or rebuttal while the other person is speaking or while you are reading their text to you? You can’t. That is why it’s imperative to practice grounding and mindfulness every chance you get in order to support yourself and be available to support your loved ones.  We need tools to allow us to handle all the negative and disheartening news that is coming at us all the time without having a meltdown or anxiety attack.  If we practice being calm and present when we are alone, it will allow us to do so when interacting with others.  For example, when your loved one calls you crying about not being able to spend time with you because it’s too risky or that they just found out a good friend is in the hospital with COVID.  

Our capacity for empathy and compassion needs to be sharpened and practiced at 150% for us to get through these times with favorable outcomes. This can be achieved by adding mindfulness practices, self-care and talk therapy into our routines to create greater calm and more compassion in our interactions. If we can do that for one another, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way. Strong relationships with family and community are crucial in these trying times.  We need one another; now, more than ever.

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