Adapting to a New Normal, Pt. 2

Part 2 in a series of tips from Holistic Psychotherapist Kathleen Dahlen Devos


“Adjusting to a new normal will take time — and that’s okay.”— Kathleen dahlen devos

#EvolutionaryWoman Kathleen Dahlen deVos, San Francisco based Holistic Psychotherapist, shares her tips on how to deal with the unexpected.

 

 

How do we adapt to a normal, deal with loss, and be open to what's to come in a new way?

Adjusting to a new normal will take time- and that’s okay. As humans we are incredibly adaptable, because we’ve evolved to be. However, even if we are able to mentally shift gears, emotionally it might take a bit more work. In addition, letting go of our old or “expected” versions of life will take time, as well, and perhaps some grieving.

For any emotional experience- loss, feeling out-of-control, the struggle to adjust, I encourage you to try what Mindfulness practices call the “Three A’s”:

  • Acknowledge that a feeling or emotional experience is present
  • Accept that it’s here (and here for a good reason!)
  • Allow it to move through your system.

Perhaps practicing these Three A’s will involve an actual meditation practice (I like the Calm and Headspace apps for providing great guidance!), or perhaps it will involve grieving rituals that you create for yourself, or time processing through dance, movement, words (journaling), connection with others or tears.

In times of uncertainty, I also like to encourage focusing on what we do have control over:

  • Engaging in projects or pursuits where we have control can help decrease distressing symptoms like anxiety, which seek to help us manage feeling out-of-control, or depression, which results from the helplessness of losing control.
  • Doing projects with our hands can act as a form of mindfulness, which is very regulating for the nervous system and can soothe the emotions, especially since working creatively (crafting, cooking) can release the feel-good hormone dopamine into the brain.

Our brains love seeing tasks completed, so taking on projects that we know we can check a box and be “done” with feels very satisfying.

Part of being open to what’s to come next might also involve shifting our relationship to “The Unknown”. If we tend towards anxiety, it’s common to anticipate that “The Unknown” involves only “bad” things, and that we have to brace to prepare for this painful onslaught. Try considering that what comes next might, in fact, be good:

  • Take some time to envision what shape you’d like The Unknown to take:
  • What would you like to carry forward with you?
  • What would you like to leave behind?
  • How do you want to feel in The Unknown?
  • What would you like to cultivate?

When life as we know it shatters, we have the opportunity to put back the pieces in a way that perhaps us in leading more full, centered and rewarding lives.

 

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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