My niece is a clinical psychologist and started doing telehealth sessions (video) last week. I have been doing it for a couple of weeks now and I am startled by how tiring it is, and she concurred, even after just half a day. A friend of mine – a local LPC – is going that route now too and is scrambling around trying to figure out what is HIPPA compliant and effective. I have been using ZOOM, which is both.
What I noticed though is how utterly exhausting it is to do most of these video sessions. In my Stage 3 DBT clinical manual Dialectical Patterns I discuss the “energy” of presence, so this has been quite a validation of that concept. In-person is so powerful, especially in a therapeutic relationship; it’s not just the nuance of body language but a palpable energy of just being with another person. My patients have noticed this also. We make the best of it because we have to. Mental health is affected by isolation; fears are amplified. The dreaded “what if’s?!” are stirred up and our attention goes so easily to the perceived disaster. It doesn’t help that the vacuum of leadership is filled by the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality of the media. Holy cow, this is better than the Gulf War! Literally everyone is glued to their newsfeeds, and lacking critical thinking skills (not taught anymore in schools) people fall for the dumbest stuff. And when combined with the echo chambers of our environment (see next post on language) our beliefs are reinforced, unfortunately without any facts – real facts- to back them up. Fertile soil for fear and anxiety.
I noticed this yesterday doing a session. I commented that it looks like we’re going to be doing this for the whole month of April and I noticed a tightening of my chest (anxiety). I was bringing a whole month of unpleasantness into the present moment. I hate doing video, hate being stuck at home, and hate the idea of having to do this for another month or more. Hate it hate it. And that feeds the anxiety. But I also noticed, in real time, that I was just doing a video session and it was no big deal. I can do this… Today. It’s just today and that’s all I have to deal with. And off went the anxiety.
Step back from whatever you’re doing and consider the energy levels around you:
|Energy||Level and why?|
Look for creative ways to increase any one of them. One of my brilliant students calls it Emotional Alchemy. When your emotional tank (for example) is low you can turn towards another source of energy and literally transmute it. Folks who enjoy working out (perverse, I know) are aware of this.
For now, I intend to go vacuum the living room. Kinesthetic energy (energy of motion), Attentional energy, and even Intentional energy (meaning or purpose)
It’s so easy to judge what we haven’t accomplished, the “I’ve wasted another day” attitude. Make the bed, vacuum the rug, sit on the porch and just observe the birds. Don’t think, just watch. You have accomplished something! DO NOT pick up the remote or click on Facebook yet again. That stuff will always be there, ready to steal more of your life. Get busy living!