Emotional Abuse Recovery Tips amidst COVID-19 Crisis

Ashley Harris, LMFT, LPC, NCC

This time of isolation during the COVID-19 crisis can be particularly difficult for survivors. The feelings of emotional isolation can be as difficult as physical isolation. While we are wired to thrive, when emotional connections are unhealthy it can be particularly difficult.  Here are six positive emotional health tips one can practice during self-isolation:

1. Acknowledge your discomfort without shame, guilt, or judgment. Honor your feelings rather than ignore them and try not to be too hard on yourself for the feelings you have. While this may be uncomfortable, it is a healthy part of the healing process. This is not to say you stay in the discomfort forever, but if you allow yourself to feel, this will inform what parts of you to work on healing, such as grief, loneliness, sadness, regret, etc.

2. After you’ve come face-to-face with your feelings, it’s time to shift your perceptions. Although you may miss your partner or be grieving some parts of the relationship, it does not mean you necessarily want to go back, Odds are you may miss feeling a connection, which is completely normal. Remember, if it was an unhealthy or abusive relationship, your support came from an unhealthy source. An example of an unhealthy perception would be, “I am nothing if I’m not in that relationship.” A healthy perception would be, “I may feel lonely at times, but I am valuable and have a purpose whether alone or with someone.”

3. Although changing your perceptions is important, it does not happen overnight. Positively affirm healthier perceptions daily. You can practice this by writing your favorite positive things down (i.e. quotes, poems, scriptures, mantras), or listen to your favorite podcasts, inspirational messages, meditations, music, etc.

4. Create a list of personal goals and take the first step towards one of those goals. It could be something you have always wanted to do, but were told you could not or may have been afraid to try. This is a part exploring yourself again and can be empowering.

 5. Become intentional about making progress one day at a time. You may have a slight set back and that’s okay! Old thoughts may creep back into your mind. You may cry. The intense emotions may come back, but this is where intentionality appears. Again, allow yourself to feel without judgement and then fight the urge to fall back into old thinking patterns. Make the intentional choice to believe those healthier perceptions and goals you’ve set for yourself.

6. Try to build a support system. A good support system can be encouraging and a positive reminder to stick with your goals.  I like the analogy that healthy support is like having a friend in your “passenger seat” as you navigate along your healing journey. Support looks different to everyone and can include family, friends, support groups, crisis lines, faith community and domestic violence agencies.  

*This is not medical advice.  If you are suffering from severe symptoms related to mental health (i.e. wanting to hurt yourself, hurt someone else, psychosis, etc.) please contact 911 and your medical provider immediately.