by Laura Vega, DSW, LCSW
In these times of intense stress, it is most difficult to find our peace and balance.
We are experiencing unprecedented times with daily increases in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and the number of deaths. Color-coded tracking maps magnify the power of the virus’ transmission across our counties, states, and countries. In real time, we receive tweets and notifications of “hot zones” and alerts about increasing rates of transmission. In addition to the threats to our own health and the healthcare system, we are experiencing real economic loss and a hostile political climate. In these times of intense stress, it is most difficult to find our peace and balance.
We all struggle with our need for control and predictability in times when the rules are changing daily.
We must find our own personal balance of how much news we need to stay informed without inundating ourselves with fear and anxiety. How do we balance the mandate for social distancing with our need for human connection? Accommodate the need to protect our children with the responsibility to provide care and supplies for our aging parents? How do we balance the blessing of working remotely with the demands to teach and care for our children simultaneously? How do we process the loss of lives and panic around us with our own need to find peace within us?
Finding inner peace often involves letting go of what we cannot control and banding together with those we love.
As a trauma clinician and supervisor working with children and families in Philadelphia, many of our families are impacted by poverty, violence, and toxic stress. As clinicians, we believe that we help our clients better understand their trauma, but we cannot underestimate what our children and families teach us about resilience.
Families have taught me how much a sense of community builds resilience, that resilience is not only about what you are born with, but also about the community and connections that surround you. They have taught me the importance of reflecting on the positive in the midst of the storm and that finding inner peace often involves letting go of what we cannot control and banding together with those we love.
Fear and panic overshadow the strength and goodness in our communities.
Too often in our society, we focus on the trauma and not the resilience. Fear and panic overshadow the strength and goodness in our communities. I want to thank and acknowledge our healthcare professionals, clinicians, researchers, public health officials, local and state leaders, teachers, community advocates, faith-based communities, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and especially our children as they continue to shine their light and build our sense of community and resilience during this difficult time.
As we endure this pandemic and seek calm during this storm, we must take time to acknowledge and celebrate the ways we have come together as a community to fight this battle.
To find peace, we must allow the love, compassion, strength, and service that we see to shine through, to let go of what we cannot control, and to find strength in our strong sense of community.
Laura Vega, Kristen Kohser, and Caroline Menapace from the Violence Prevention Initiative at CHOP will lead a Virtual Café session that will allow participants to assess and reflect on their own stress reactions, process the challenges of caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic, and learn coping skills related to power, control, and acceptance.