Mind Matters: Reflections in the time of COVID-19

Welcome to the new normal of social distancing. A month ago, it seemed surreal to be doing the six-feet apart dance and seeing no one, but it is becoming eerily status quo.

My personal life has changed in that I am reaching back in time when I was the mother of two tiny tots living in the middle of nowhere Western Pennsylvania. Now I am the grandmother of two tiny tots for whom I am caregiving on the first floor of our two-family house while their parents hideout on the third floor working from home. My husband telecommutes from the unfinished basement office. In some ways then I am far less isolated than I was over 35 years ago. Given that Massachusetts is a hot spot, daycare centers won’t open until June 29 (if then) so I will continue channeling my younger self for a few more months at least.

I am not complaining about this arrangement. I wanted to move from Pennsylvania to be with my grandchildren and so I am in “the full catastrophe” as Zorba the Greek would say.

As a psychologist, allow me however to share some advice. If you are a parent, recognize that your children are emotional barometers for whatever stress and anxiety is manifesting in you. Children soak up like little sponges what parents do and feel. They mimic parents in their actions and attitudes and feelings. So, parents, it is important to take care of yourselves by getting sleep, eating healthy, getting exercise. Consider learning calming routines such as meditation or yoga. There are plenty of online ways to do this. Take your children outside for a walk and observe nature — the budding trees, the birds singing. This may all sound simplistic, but really what else is there? Make the most of what is around you — open the shades, open the curtains and enjoy the clouds in the sky and the moon at night. If ever there were a time for us to reconnect with our families and ourselves, it is now. We can’t just hop on a plane or hide in a gym; we might actually have to eat family dinners.

For many of us, COVID-19 is an inconvenience. However, for others, it is a hardship — how to keep food on the table or pay the rent. And we look to the many people that are keeping the rest of us going—from the healthcare providers to the delivery people to those involved in essential goods manufacture and stores.

Can we practice gratefulness? When there is a crisis, can we, as Mr. Rogers advised, look for the helpers rather than focus on the negativity of those who have little concern for the common good? We are in this together. Ironic how a microscopic virus that can travel the globe might, if we’re lucky, in the end, unite us.

For further reading, consult APA.org/topics/covid-19.

 

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About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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One Response to “Mind Matters: Reflections in the time of COVID-19”

  1. Azriel Adelberg says:

    Thank you for your sincere advice Dr. Kayta Gajdos. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult. However, in times like this, socially distance is also a form of love wherein you care about your loved ones and you know how important they are in your life. Let’s just hope and pray that this pandemic or crisis will end soon. Azriel from https://biomdplus.com/cbd-oil-for-anxiety/

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