Rakesh is a teenager who loves to hang out with his friends. Due to COVID restrictions, he has been confined to his home. Recently, he has been experiencing constant fatigue, lack of interest in activities in general, low mood, irritability and an inherent feeling of helplessness.
In terms of the number of lives lost and disrupted, the COVID pandemic is already the biggest crisis since World War II. We are living through a global, collective trauma.
Collective trauma refers to a traumatic event that affects the society at large. Collective trauma elicits challenges and responses that are psychological, physiological, relational and spiritual at the individual and societal level.
The Collective Trauma of COVID
Covid is now recognised as collective trauma, with its societal level impact, meaning-making and responses.
Some of us may be exposed to direct impacts of traumatic events, like sickness, death, injury, or loss of a loved one. Others experience the indirect effects such as financial difficulties, loss of job, or separation from friends or family members. Many of us are living through the current scenario with fear, anxiety and loneliness, which may eventually lead to Depression, panic attacks or even PTSD in some cases.
Impact of Covid
If a person has been exposed to prior trauma (say an adverse childhood experience - ACE) or going through mental health issues, then their challenges are multiplied. If you or your client(s) has a history of mental health issues, seeking therapeutic support is very important.
Vicarious Trauma (or) Secondary Trauma
Some of us may not be affected directly by a traumatic event. Hearing about, seeing and even working in a traumatic environment, impacts deeply at the neurological level. This is called Secondary Trauma.
The caregiving professionals may endure Vicarious Trauma, with extra work hours and deeply disturbing pandemic environments. Recent reports of frontline workers having breakdowns, are indicators of this. As a therapist or social worker, please be aware and take conscious steps for self-care.
While it may offer some comfort to know that we are not alone, we still need to process our individual losses and grief. The society’s defences and support systems are overwhelmed. Normal grieving modalities may not be available even for regular, non-covid losses. Having someone validate your loss is important.
Self care is an important tool to shore up our resilience for the next few months of the pandemic and eventually restore ourselves. If you would like to share some self-care routines with the community, please email us, we would love to hear from you.
Many have experienced loss of loved ones and denied their final goodbyes and even last rites. While there is no easy way to process grief, counselling and sharing can help.
Try going to your loved one’s favorite city / place, cooking their favorite meal, or taking one of their possessions to a holy spot.
Turn down the inflow of the news.
Try positive activities, like watching a feel-good movie or helping the community.
Practises like group chanting, meditation or story-sharing are neuroscience proven and the collective effort builds solidarity in healing.
Join online communities / support groups that share your beliefs.
We recommend simple stretches and breathing practices as you wake up, and listening to some peaceful music before you go to sleep.
Create a self care routine.
Physical activity resets our nervous system by triggering vagal response and allowing the cortisol (stress hormone) levels to decline.
Challenge your limits
Learn something playful and creative.
Start Journaling, notice and note down positive things that happen during the day.
Guard against thoughts about, “This happened to everyone! You should get on with it”.
Self-care Practice Videos
Covid Recovery Self Care Practice
Body Therapist Andrea Jacob explains few simple things you can do to engender positivity while recovering from COVID. These are simple, from-the-bed exercises to get your circulation going. Please consult with your doctor before you begin.
Helping those in Grief: Compassionate Presence
Dance Movement Therapist Smita Rajan uses a simple example to explain how we can support those in grief - just with our compassionate presence and not with goading to move on.