Because of COVID-19, everybody is experiencing some level of trauma. It might sound scary – trauma is a big word, and something we don’t often talk about. But with everything that’s happening right now, it’s important to discuss it and how it may impact our loved ones. Today we chatted with Zipporah “Zippy” Doiron, a counselor, who shared tips on feeling creative, capable and connected from a therapist to put our best mental health practices to work during this time.
Zipporah "Zippy" Doiron is a registered counselling therapist candidate in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who focuses on creative interventions that assist in brain reprocessing. Zippy has years of experience working with children and families across Canada and is currently building her private practice in Halifax. One focus of her private practice is partnering with community organizations to promote positive mental health practices within schools and the community.
According to Zippy, trauma is anything that overwhelms our coping mechanisms – and if there is one word that sums up most people’s experiences with COVID-19, it's overwhelmed. We’re all currently in a situation where it’s easy to feel like we don’t have any control. We also don’t have a model to follow – no one has lived through this experience before! We’re all stumbling through, trying to figure it all out as we go.
Luckily, Zippy offers some expert advice on dealing with all the different emotions that are coming up throughout these unprecedented times. Here are some of the gems that Zippy shares with us in this podcast:
Things You Need to Hear – What an Expert Has to Say:
There is no “right way” to be doing this. Whatever feelings are going on for you are real and are okay – “Comparison is the theft of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt.
You can have conflicting feelings at the same time – you can be inspired, grateful and connected while feeling angry and sad about the same time.
All Things Emotions:
Name and tame those emotions, then find out how you best express your feelings. Is it through writing? Talking it out? Writing music? Whatever you find works best for you, lean into it! Running away from them or ignoring them will not make you feel better. You may not even understand why you are having a certain feeling about the circumstances, and that’s okay too.
We are all grieving. Whether it is the loss of a job, a trip, high school graduation or even just a sense of freedom over our daily routines, everybody has lost something. Have compassion for yourself and others.
Recognize when you are feeling guilty about your feelings. You have the right to all of your feelings right now – they are real, they are justified and they are yours. Judging yourself only makes it more challenging.
Emotions can manifest in physical ways. When our body isn’t able to process emotions, it creates physical symptoms to help us to slow down and check in with ourselves.
Emotions and the Teenage Brain
Reminder: The teenage brain is not yet fully developed. The frontal lobe (the part of the brain that is linked to decision-making and problem solving) doesn’t fully develop until 25. You might be seeing or experiencing this right now: for example, when you try to explain why staying away from friends is so important.
Humans like certainty. In order to cope with our current loss of certainty, we all might be attaching our angry emotions to something or someone – parents to teens or teens to their parents.
As much as we want to help change someone’s feelings and experience, we can’t. Those emotions don’t belong to us. We need to be there to validate their feelings – reflect back what they are saying, but be careful not to instruct them to feel differently.
Teens would benefit from seeing the adults in their life do what they need to do for themselves to be emotionally okay. Model good self-care practices and your teens may follow suit.
How to Empower One Another: Seek to be Connected, Creative and
Connected: Find ways that make you feel not alone (in your own home and with your digital community). Collective healing and relying on your community makes this process easier
Creative: How can you use your hands or learn something new? Find something that sparks your curiosity and follow it or encourage someone else to follow theirs. Learn a language, a musical instrument, cook a new recipe, take up photography or coding. There’s no pressure to master anything, but you can get creative and try some new outlets
Capable: By creating something, you realise that you are a capable person and you can do hard things. It can give you a sense of power and purpose.
If you want to see more of Zippy’s resources, you can check them out at creativeartstherapy.ca, or listen to this podcast now!