ask a therapist

Dear Therapist,

I am still terribly nervous about my adult children getting COVID-19, particularly my daughter-in-law who is a pharmacist, and my son who has a lingering cough. Any ideas on how I can calm myself down?






Dear Mary,

It is understandable to feel nervous or anxious about our children possibly being exposed to the virus. It could be helpful to remember that your daughter-in-law is a trained professional and has been taught the correct procedures to lessen her exposure.

To assist with calming yourself down during this time remember that your daughter-in-law is a trained professional and is aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and that if your son/her husband starts to show symptoms, she will take him to the hospital.

Once you’ve reminded yourself of that, you can use several therapeutic techniques to calm yourself down, including guided imagery, grounding and meditation.

Visualize that you are calm.

When you think of something positive and calming in great detail, you feel relaxed. The imagery technique harnesses this power to reduce anxiety. Therapist Aid explains why visualization works:

Here’s something you can try now: Think of your favorite food. Really think about it. Close your eyes, and imagine it’s sitting on the table in front of you. Imagine how its smell, texture, and taste. Don’t just think about it for a few seconds and move on. Imagine the food as if it’s real.

If you were at least a little bit hungry, you probably just became hungrier. Maybe your mouth is even watering. This example shows us the direct connection between our thoughts and our bodies. Visualization takes advantage of this same phenomenon to influence our emotional state.

Now try guided imagery yourself.

Think of a place that you find comforting.

photos of relaxing placesIt could be a your bedroom, a secluded beach, a quiet mountaintop, or even a loud concert.

For 5 to 10 minutes, use all your senses to imagine this setting in great detail. Don’t just think fleetingly about this place — really imagine it. Get cozy in your spot, close your eyes and really focus.

What do you see around you?

What do you notice in the distance? Look all around to take in all your surroundings. Look for small details you would usually miss.

What sounds can you hear?

Are they soft or loud? Listen closely to everything around you. Keep listening to see if you notice any distant sounds.

Are you eating or drinking something enjoyable?

What is the flavor like? How does it taste? Savor all the tastes of the food or drink.

What can you feel?

What is the temperature like? Think of how the air feels on your skin, and how your clothes feel on your body. Soak in all these sensations.

What scents are present?

Are they strong or faint? What does the air smell like? Take some time to appreciate the scents.

I hope this technique helps calm you down when you start to feel anxious about your children.

Ground yourself

Grounding is a common technique used to bring yourself back into the present moment. This technique requires you to be purposeful in the details of your surroundings using each of your senses. Try to notice small details that your mind would usually not recognize; such as faint sounds and/or the texture of an object. Here is a video that walks you through how to try grounding.

Meditate on it

Lastly, if you are interested, there are several apps out there that can help you with guided meditations and guided relaxation. Here are two examples:

Insight Timer -– They have more than 45,000 free guided meditations

Calm — While this app costs money, they have quite a few free resources as well.

Astrid, LPC

Astrid, LPC, Counselor/Psychotherapist. She earned her MA from Grand Canyon University and is a licensed professional counselor. She has more than four years of clinical experience in crisis intervention, adults, adolescents, couples therapy, multi-cultural issues, and medication management.

Disclaimer: The contents of the Jewish Family Service of San Antonio blog are for general use or informational purposed only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The use of any information contained on this site is solely at your own risk. If you would like to speak in detail with a licensed therapist, please email referrals@jfs-sa.org.

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