Radical Acceptance During a Pandemic

We are currently experiencing something that no other generation has been through. The media is bombarding the public with never-ending updates. We receive continuous “pings” from our friends and family, sharing articles, videos, links, and conspiracies about the coronavirus. We seemingly cannot escape from it.

There is no denying that a global pandemic is frightening.

Everyone is talking about the coronavirus, whether you’re online, on the phone, or on a socially distanced walk with your loved ones. Coronavirus, Corona, the Rona, Ms. Rona,  COVID-19, whatever you want to call it, it lurks in every corner of our beings.

What did we even talk about before coronavirus? There will forevermore be the world before the coronavirus and the world after the coronavirus. The world before seems like a faint memory, a story written on old tattered pages. A world that we dream of but can’t seem to touch, no matter how hard we try.  

We are constantly being alerted about this invisible virus that has the potential to have a far-reaching and catastrophic impact on human life and the economy. Everyone is scared of the unknown and since this is a new issue, there are no ‘best practices’ on how to handle the fear that comes with it. 

You have every right to feel nervous, scared, anxious, terrified, sad, or indifferent. Life has been flipped on its head and even if it still doesn’t feel real, it is.

Although there are no rules on how to best process the magnitude of new information and fear being placed at the doorstep of your mind every day, we at Sage Neuroscience Center want to help. We teach radical acceptance in our Behavioral Health Intensive Outpatient Program (BHIOP) to help our patients feel more comfortable in any given environment. We hope that radical acceptance can help you better navigate the uncertain path ahead. 

What is Radical Acceptance?

Radical Acceptance is accepting your circumstances as they are and letting go of emotional suffering. It is not dismissing your circumstances or allowing bad things to happen, but simply ACCEPTING the current state of reality that exists without judgment. Acceptance does not mean you agree with or are even okay with the current situation. Acceptance means you accept what is as what is. 

We are instructed to practice social distancing, which means staying home unless absolutely necessary and keeping our distance from people. Humans are social beings. We have adapted to the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, and to live such a starkly different life in such a short period of time without an adjustment period is difficult. You may feel trapped, isolated, anxious, frustrated, angry, upset, or any number of emotions.  Social distancing is disrupting our routines, jobs, and limiting us from seeing our friends and family. 

Even though we are not loving the current restrictions, ACCEPTING the current restrictions can alleviate much of the internal struggle. Acceptance is one of the first steps in being present, non-judgmental, and allowing your thoughts to shift in a different direction. When you let go of expectations, when you release that death grip on what you want reality to be, the more aware you become of allowing judgments about the situation to come and go. The more we can accept what is outside of our control, the more empowered we are to change that which is in our control. 

How Radical Acceptance Can Help You Now:

Accepting reality in its current state might lead to sadness, but calmness tends to follow. We have to socially distance to protect our own well-being and the health of others. If we can accept this reality, it is easier to cope and even allow you to make the most of it! 

8 Steps to Radical Acceptance

  1. “It should not be this way.” Observe that you are fighting reality. 
  2. “This is what happened.” Remind yourself that you cannot change reality. 
  3. “This is how things happened.” Acknowledge that there were events and factors that lead to this outcome. Think about how others are also affected by it. 
  4. Accept yourself as you are and the feelings you have. 
  5. Practice opposite action by listing how you would act if you already accepted these facts. Now engage in those behaviors you listed.
  6. Allow yourself to truly feel your emotions and attend to those body sensations.
  7. Acknowledge that life goes on and it is still worth living even with the current situation.
  8. If you find yourself still resisting acceptance, make a pros and cons list of what would happen if you continue to stay in these beliefs. 

Radical Acceptance is a core skill taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The BHIOP curriculum includes all the DBT skills to help manage emotional suffering and increase the quality of your life. These skills can be applied to many circumstances, not just this pandemic.  

How to Cope with Coronavirus

Everyone is struggling in some way or another, but in the same way we attend to the negative headlines, we can also pay attention to any positives, no matter how small. Perhaps you have more time to spend with your kids or you can finally watch that show you’ve had on your list for months. Is there a book or a goal that’s been put on the backburner? This is your chance to accomplish some of those long-term goals! You can take this time to work on yourself or just get some much-needed rest. There is no pressure to come out on the other side of this as a completely different person. You have the ability to choose how to spend your time! 

BHIOP

While we have telehealth services to access standard therapy from home during this time, we understand that sometimes one therapy session a week is not enough. Our Behavioral Health Intensive Outpatient Program (BHIOP) is a twelve-week program (meeting three times a week for three hours a day) offering individuals who are needing more than once-a-week therapy to target and treat the struggles, suffering, and lack of functioning that typically accompany mental health disorders. 

Due to COVID-19, our Behavioral Health Intensive Outpatient Program is now available online for the foreseeable future. BHIOP teaches essential skills in coping with mental illness and allows you to be part of a community focusing on mental and physical health, increased functioning, and helping you develop a life worth living. If this is something that might be beneficial for you, call our office to schedule an evaluation. 

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