Back to the Basics

By Jamie Bennett, LMSW

As a clinician, I support patients in finding the value in their experiences, the “silver
linings” even in the most challenging of circumstances. Given the recent state of our
world, I have been privy to a wide array of responses, few of which have included an
urge to find the silver lining. I validate every authentic response, because given the
unfamiliar nature of this, I am confident there is no “right” way to respond, nor a
“perfect” prescription for how to achieve emotional stability.

On my enduring personal hunt for a silver lining, I caught myself rushing the process,
desperately trying to find the shiny silver “meaning” to relay to others and pacify
them. I have since decided to take a breath, many mindful breaths actually, and
allow myself the gift of time to deduce some meaning.

In the meantime though, there is a thought that consistently brings me peace and I
hope can bring you even a semblance of peace too: no matter whom you see or talk
to in the world right now, no matter the language, racial, or ethnic differences, every
single person is sharing in a common experience of uncertainty. And empathy is
something to be grateful for. So maybe that’s a silver lining after all. Maybe this
experience can function as a reminder to more consistently express our gratitude
when our basic needs are fulfilled (thank you, Maslow).

When we express gratitude, we can experience emotional relief and increased life
satisfaction. Some strategies to show gratitude:

Body scan: This is a meditation practice that brings our awareness to the present and
helps us appreciate our body’s basic functions.

Journaling: Reflecting on past and present positive events supports our mental
health, helping us identify what in our lives brings us fulfillment and is therefore
worth engaging in more often.

Mindful meditation: There are countless guided meditation apps and videos that can
help enhance our deep breathing and promote a state of calm.

Progressive muscle relaxation: This mindful exercise allows us to release physical
tension in the body and by extension, helps reduce anxiety.

Connect: I encourage all of us to turn to the reliable people in our lives and express
how grateful we are to know them.

I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with you.

March 16, 2020