Bill Kuntz, M.S., LCSW, Licensed Psychologist, BCPCC

What a difference a few weeks can make. Who would have guessed in early January that we would be walking around with masks and keeping at least six feet apart just a few weeks later?

As a psychologist who sees clients dealing with unexpected change, I have learned a few things about adaptation and resilience.

Never expect things will get worse when they seem as bad as they could possibly be. Of course most of us are not going hungry or finding it impossible to pay essential bills; and many of us are doing our jobs from home (something a lot of people see as an enviable opportunity). But we are all feeling the stress of catastrophic changes in our world.

So, yes, things may be tough right now, but the odds are you still have some things for which to be grateful. I am grateful for good overall health, a bed to sleep in, and family and friends I can still talk with by phone or FaceTime (or Skype or Zoom). What are you grateful for? If you can’t think of anything, be grateful that you have a brain that can at least ask that question.

Many of us have been caught off guard without a safety net in place. You may not know how you are going to get through the next few months if you have lost your job. You may wonder when you will be able to visit a loved one in the hospital or a nursing home. You may be afraid that you will lose your place of residence or have your car repossessed. Or maybe you were better prepared than most. Whatever your situation, now is the time for hope, faith, and gratitude.

Don’t overthink the present crisis. Most likely you and I will survive. But obsessing about the pandemic will not make it go away. Instead, it will just leave you less able to do the positive things that might make your situation better.

I’m not suggesting that you bury your head in the sand, but I am suggesting you limit yourself to an hour or so of news each day and try to do something productive each day (whether or not you are still employed).

So how can you adapt to the current situation and show resilience in the face of tragedy?  Here are a few tips that are useful anytime, but especially now:

  • Try to learn something new or improve on a skill you already have.
  • Contemplate how you can help someone who is lonely, afraid, or uncared for.
  • Meditate at least 20 minutes a day. (You might want to combine this with a yoga program or exercise.)
  • Dress for success – even if you aren’t planning to leave the house in the next 24 hours.
  • Take walks (safely maintaining social distancing) and enjoy the beauty of nature and this time of year.
  • Call a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while. Or write them a letter.
  • Think growth and mastery of your life – there is no time like the present to become a better person.
  • Don’t despair – read inspirational books or passages that give you comfort and hope.

Worry is an unavoidable part of life, but despair is not. Please know that if you need mental health services during this difficult time or are struggling to cope, our practice, West County Psychological Associates, is open and accepting new clients. We currently offer sessions via telehealth video platforms and by telephone, so that clients can receive high-quality therapy from the safety of their own homes. Feel free to call our office at (314) 275-8599.

William (Bill) Kuntz, M.S., LCSW, Licensed Psychologist, BCPCC received his Master of Science degree in clinical psychology from the University of Central Missouri.  He specializes in couples counseling and adolescent issues, and he provides individual and family psychotherapy to adults and children dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, and interpersonal difficulties.  Bill utilizes a variety of therapeutic approaches including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and emotionally focused therapy (EFT).  He has over 25 years of professional experience.

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