C.R.E.A.T.E. Outcomes® Staying Calm, Comfortable, and Connected

This resource is here to provide you with a way to connect with yourself and others as you receive support from our therapists here at C.R.E.A.T.E. Outcomes. On this journey into the unknown, we want to give you a map for guidance and a community for support. Check back in to see what else we have provided for you and your loved ones, as we will be adding calming strategies and resources regularly.

We would like to introduce you to the language we use:

      Landmark = When you reach a landmark you know you’re on the right track

      Equip = Strategies to help you reach your Landmark

      Compass = A tool to find your way when you feel lost

      ○ Your Compass for Comfort = Move toward calm and comfortable,

        and away from stress and anxiety to think clearly and stay healthy. When you feel lost, lonely, or scared follow the directions below.

Landmark 1: Shift yourself to a more calm and positive state of mind (if you are feeling sad, go to Landmark 4)

Equips:

1) Remind yourself of the following:

      • Always return to the Compass for Comfort if you feel lost at any point (see above).
        • Staying alert and aware is different than anxiety. Anxiety is not going to help you be prepared. You can be calm and aware at the same time.
          • We have the capacity to cope. Remember that even in the worst-case scenarios, we have the ability to manage painful feelings and experiences.

        2) Recognize what you are already doing well in this stressful time

            • Notice the ways you are already making good decisions
              • Ask yourself: When have you experienced balanced thinking during all of this?
                • If you were not able to think of a recent time that you were able to maintain a calm, comfortable state, then try to recall something from the past when you remember maintaining a balanced state of mind.

              3) Use healthy mental defenses.

                  • Even in the worst times, our minds have ways to protect us psychologically. It is okay to rely on ways of coping that have worked for you in the past, such as distraction or being unemotional.
                    • Ideas for distraction:
                          • ○ Read or listen to uplifting stories

                            ○ Watch favorite movies or start a new television series

                            ○ Listen to music or create new playlists

                            ○ Exercise at home using DVDs or YouTube videos

                    4) Engage in behaviors that will bring about calm happy feelings as much as possible. Self-care is of the most importance! 

                      • Try mindfulness and relaxation apps such as Calm and Head Space.
                      • If feeling disconnected or out of your body, try this grounding exercise: Take a deep breath in, then notice and name…

                    5) Create blackout times when you do not consume any media or information related to the virus.

                        • Gather information updates once per day mainly to take practical steps to prepare yourself and protect yourself and loved ones.
                          • Find a few sources you trust and stick with them, such as the CDC.
                            • Use a real alarm clock rather than your phone so you do not wake up to news.  

                          6) Use time blocking. This is a time management method that helps you to divide your day into blocks of time.

                            Landmark 2: Connect with loved ones, your community, and your therapist

                            Equips:

                            1) Learn ways to stay connected that help you and others be calm and comforted.

                                  • Start supportive conversations by agreeing that reducing anxiety is in everyone’s best interest.

                                        Use Your Compass for Comfort: Move toward calm and comfortable, and away from stress and anxiety to think clearly and stay healthy.

                                    • Have comforting conversations rather than staying too long on the subject of the virus.

                                          ○ Set a boundary such as, “How about if we only talk about fears for five minutes and then switch to more positive thoughts that will help keep us calm?”

                                      • Challenge each other to come up with positive thoughts that counteract fears.

                                            ○ For instance, try asking each other, “What would it be like if some good came out of this situation?” 

                                        • Focus the conversation on helping each other see the ways that we are safe and already know how to take good care of ourselves.

                                              ○ For example, you might say, “We are calm as we are talking right now. I know it is good and bad in this situation, but it’s actually a good thing that we are relaxed.” 

                                          • It is safe to assume people understand the hygiene standards by now.

                                        2) Consider your values and decide whether it would be helpful to take a leadership role. Being a leader may help you feel calm, empowered, and fulfilled. You can use these landmarks to guide you as you help others feel better. Use this resource to help your loved ones.

                                        3) Make a list of comforting and positive ways you can stay connected to others.

                                            • Try FaceTime or Zoom conversations. Set up times to speak to loved ones throughout the day.
                                              • Have FaceTime or Zoom video parties with friends. 
                                                • Groups will be offered online via Zoom at C.R.E.A.T.E. Outcomes. If interested, visit our Group Page here.

                                                      ○ Groups are focused on supporting you in finding ways to feel calm, comfortable, and connected during this time.

                                                  • Use humor! Humor can distract you and also lift your mood and the mood of others.
                                                    • Tell positive stories. These stories can be fictional or about your own life.
                                                      • Take turns leading each other through relaxation exercises (see below for some of the resources on the internet).
                                                      • Watch uplifting TV and movies together even if you are not in the same place.

                                                            ○ If using Zoom, one person can play the movie and then you can share screens. 

                                                        • Make a playlist for yourself and friends to share music together. 
                                                        • Create music or art of any kind together over video. 
                                                      Landmark 3: Feel clear when making decisions

                                                       Equip:

                                                      1) With so many unknowns, you can only do your best making decisions. Allow other competent adults to make decisions for themselves. 

                                                          • For example, you and a friend are in separate apartments alone but you really could use company, as you are noticing that you are struggling to control anxious thoughts on your own. If this friend is okay with taking the risk in order to feel less alone and decrease anxiety, you don’t have to worry about protecting them as they are capable of making that decision.
                                                            • For example, you are wondering if you should go for a run because it will help you stay calm but you are worried that you should not leave the house. Using the information we do have, such as the recommendation to maintain six feet of social distance, you can take the precautions you know and take care of yourself. This way your body is in a good place if action needs to be taken.
                                                          Landmark 4: Support is necessary for sadness and you are allowed to sit in sadness.

                                                          Equip:

                                                          1) Remember that sadness about what has been lost or what might be lost is not the same as anxiety, stress, or depression. Receiving and/or giving support in response to sadness is healthy if we keep the following in mind:

                                                              • Sadness is a healthy response to loss and it comes in waves.
                                                                • Treat sadness like you would having a bad cold: eat food that comforts you, watch television shows that bring you positive feelings, take long showers or baths to feel better, give yourself time to nap/rest to recover.
                                                                  • We do not need to fix sadness or provide solutions, as it will come and go if there is room to express the sadness to a caring person.
                                                                    • Try to remain aware of when the sadness might be shifting to fears and worries. For example, if you start to hear, “what if…” use the Landmarks above.
                                                                      • If your loved ones are sad, comforting words can be enough, “I am sorry you are sad about…I am here for you in your sadness.”
                                                                        • Tears from sadness are a way to bring people to your side to support you. Tears are also our body’s biological way of releasing emotions.
                                                                          • ○ Keep in mind that if you haven’t let your tears flow for a while, or in your past, they might show up more when you finally allow them to be accessed.
                                                                        • Sadness is an emotion in reaction to lots of things. Sadness doesn’t have to have a name – it can just be there.
                                                                          • Sadness might be a signal that you need a connection. You could use that information to take action (e.g., calling someone to sit on the phone with you while you move through your sadness.)

                                                                          2) Sharing your sadness can create a connection.

                                                                              • If you feel your sadness is a burden, ask yourself these questions:
                                                                                • ○ “When someone cries to you, does that feel like a burden?”
                                                                                  ○ “Do you think less of someone when they share their sadness with you?”
                                                                              • Keep in mind that some people are afraid of tears, but most people are able to tune into how good it feels to successfully support someone in their tears and sadness.
                                                                                • If you share your sadness, then that person can share their sadness with you.
                                                                                  • When people can overcome their barriers of holding back on their sadness, the connections that come from this sharing are deep and purposeful.
                                                                                    • If you are sad, ask for support from someone who knows how to listen to your sadness without needing to provide a solution.