Surfing Through Life: Ride the wave to bliss in stormy times - External Relations
Surfing Through Life: Ride the wave to bliss in stormy times
April 13, 2020
Written by: Kathy Evans, LCSW and Therapist in the Counseling
Center and Jennifer Andrews, LCSW, LAC, Director of the Counseling Center
When facing difficulty, one of my favorite inspirational quotes is
“We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf.” I don’t know
about you, but surfing COVID-19 challenges have occasionally left me
with a mouth full of saltwater! (Or at least a shelf full of toilet
paper and hand sanitizer). As we face the difficulties and challenges
of COVID-19, the Vincennes University Counseling Center offers
suggestions for surfing through these crazy times: uncomfortable
emotions are expected, self-care is vital, and resiliency is possible.
Uncomfortable emotions are expected--they are part of a fully
Although we don’t like discomfort, we would not know the emotion of
joy or happiness if we didn’t also experience sadness or even fear.
When this happens, it is important to acknowledge these feelings. It
is important to take time to reflect on what you are feeling and how
you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties of the future.
Fear and anxiety can emerge if you are worried about yourself
or family contracting or spreading COVID-19. You might be concerned
about obtaining food or other needed supplies. Depression and
boredom can emerge due to extended periods of being at home
without your usual routines or financial struggles. Anger and
irritability can emerge due to your loss of personal freedom,
others who are not doing their part to avoid the spread of the virus
or uncertainty about the future.
Taking care of yourself is vital--you have to feed yourself
physically and emotionally to have the strength to help others
Our second point focuses on some practical strategies for positive self-care.
Be informed, not flooded.
Have you ever said you were going to go online for 5 minutes and 2
hours later you were shocked wondering where the time went? When it
comes to COVID-19, we could spend 24/7 reading articles, stories and
commentaries about the disease. Pick two reliable informational
sources to check only 1-2x per day. Limit your social media presence
and be sure you spend some time looking for good news (like cat and
dog videos) when you do!
There are many opportunities for online exploration of art and
culture. Many museums are offering virtual tours, there are live
virtual concert offerings, online art classes and even online
streaming of Broadway shows.
Many times, we can look over the mistakes and oversights of others,
but we are brutally hard on ourselves. It is important to remember
that we all make mistakes, and that imperfection is part of the human
experience. Practicing self-compassion means treating ourselves as
well as we might treat a guest in our home. Although we all want to do
our best, we also should remember that our “best” may vary from day to
day depending on our health, the stressors around us and other things
that we cannot control.
Resiliency is possible--we can grow and find meaning even in
Our third point focuses on resiliency. What is resiliency? It is the
ability to find strength and growth during difficult times. Here are a
few that we would encourage you to try.
Keep things in perspective
Take a deep breath and stay focused on what the situation actually
is, rather than the worst-case scenario. It can be helpful to shift
your focus to things within your control rather than things outside
Research shows that giving thanks can make you happier. Some ideas
for gratitude include writing a thank you note, keeping a gratitude
journal, and naming 3-5 things daily that you are thankful for.
Reach out to others
When we connect with others, we realize that we are not alone. It
also gives us something positive to focus on. Whether it is reaching
out to a neighbor or making phone calls to others that we don’t
frequently talk to, reaching out is a sure-fire way to help us thrive
in the midst of these challenging times! What will you do to “thrive”
instead of just “survive”?