Adapting to a New Normal, Pt. 1

Adapting to a New Normal, Pt. 1

Part 1 in a series of tips from Holistic Psychotherapist Kathleen Dahlen Devos

“When all else fails, come back to Self-Compassion.”— Kathleen dahlen devos

As Mental Health Awareness month comes to a close, we wanted to share a series of tips that can be used at any time to deal with feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and the unknown.

#EvolutionaryWoman Kathleen Dahlen deVos, San Francisco based Holistic Psychotherapist, has put together a toolbox that we can lean on to tackle these feelings and dealing with this new normal.

How can we attempt to manage feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression?

Feelings of isolation, separation, and loneliness are not only emotionally (and sometimes physically) painful for humans, but they also impact a very primal part of our brains. When we experience isolation and loneliness for an extended period of time, our brains activate the “fight-or-flight” nervous system response in an attempt to motivate us to return to “togetherness”- to seek out and reconnect with our communities.

This makes sense: in our hunter & gatherer days, isolation meant that we’d be separated from the “pack” and were likely in danger- activating fight-or-flight would give us the boost of adrenaline needed to safely find our way back. Nowadays, not only is this primal response outdated (separation is not, in itself, a threat to our lives), but reconnection with others might not be possible or safe at the moment. Furthermore, the stress hormones that are discharged into the body during activated states, namely cortisol and adrenaline, can wreak havoc on our physical and emotional health if we aren’t periodically discharging them from our systems.

We can do this by helping the nervous system complete the stress cycle: signaling to the body that it’s safe and can relax. This can happen through:

  • physical movement, such as gentle exercise, dancing or restorative yoga
  • connection with a loved one,
  • deep breathing or a brief mindfulness practice
  • a nourishing self-care practice, like a comforting meal or hot shower

In general, in times of distress such as anxiety, depression, loneliness or fear, it’s crucial to get primal and tend to your most basic animal needs. This may sound obvious, but when fight-or-flight is activated in a chronic way and/or if we’re sleep deprived, even rudimentary care can go out the window.

Don’t forget to

  • eat at least three times a day (more often will help prevent blood sugar surges and crashes)
  • drink water
  • sleep when you are able (resist the urge to zone out with screen time instead)
  • stay connected to your support system.

About kathleen dahlen devos

As a licensed psychotherapist, Kat maintains a full private practice in San Francisco where she supports women in navigating life transitions with authenticity, grace and vitality. Her therapeutic work weaves together Western psychological theory with Eastern traditions of spirituality, infusing sessions with practices to assist her clients in developing self compassion, mindfulness, emotional fluency and body awareness.

Additionally, Kat co-founded the San Francisco based holistic group practice HAVN Collective, a wellness community for the curious and courageous. HAVN offers integrative therapy and wellness services to the Bay Area.

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