Today I am thinking about Viktor Frankl during my morning run. We learned about him in school as a famous neurologist who endured the Holocaust in the 1940s. In Vienna, he survived four different camps and saw his wife pass, along with other family members. When he got out, he traveled back to Vienna to write a book on his observations of people during that time. He is famous in psychology for his ideas on making meaning out of loss. I was struck by his words today,
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
Certainly he knows about loss. Certainly he knows of change that was out of his control.
Our community has lost much during this time, including the devastating loss of a sense of direction for the future. Yet, on my run I was realizing what I had actually gained in my run. I could run without stopping for the second day in a row! I used to be a consistent runner, but I fell out of the routine. With more time on my hands during Covid-19 I have been able to run more. Today I actually felt like I recovered a part of myself that I had lost way before the threat of illness we face now. “This would have never happened if I did not have more time for myself due to shelter-in-place,” I thought. I am going to come out of this season faster and stronger than ever.
So, I am continuing on with runs, zoom calls to my friends/family, and binge-watching Frasier. I am going to choose to make meaning of this time of loss. I am going to use the time to recover treasures from my past and even discover new treasures never found. I am going to choose to focus on what I can gain out of this time, instead of what I am losing.
If you are struggling during this time, know you are not alone. We are struggling differently, but we are struggling together. What have you gained during this time that you otherwise could not have? Some practical tips for staying positive are:
1. Incorporating naturally mood boosting activities in your day: exercises, connecting with people you like, favorite hobbies, eating well, engaging in your spiritual activities/religion, etc…
2. Be present to your emotions. They are telling you things need to change.
3. Give yourself some structure. Create chunks of time for different purposes. Even though you do not know what tomorrow will look like outside of your home, you can count on your routine to let you know what life will look like inside your home.
Angelica Rivera, MS, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Dr. Jerry Terrill, MDin, LPC-S