As the community continues to look for ways to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, residents can try a therapeutic writing exercise described by a therapist in Santa Clarita.
Kristina de Bree, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in Santa Clarita, grew up using this technique as she coped with cystic fibrosis, which meant spending most of her life in hospitals and constantly facing the reality of her own death.
“We just never really know what’s possible,” de Bree said. “Every situation, every problem has a potential silver lining, and even though we feel a loss of power and control, we do have a choice of how we want to capitalize or harvest that silver lining.”
Related: Santa Clarita Therapist Explains Why People Are Deprioritizing Mental Health During Coronavirus Pandemic
To begin the writing exercise, de Bree recommended imagining your life a year from now, five years from now or 10 years from now, and picturing that things are exactly the way you want, with the best possible outcome taking place.
“Imagine what you would look like, imagine how it would feel to be you, imagine what the possibilities would be,” she said. “‘I am strong, I am capable, I am intelligent, I’ve made it. I have overcome COVID, I have overcome other things, I have accomplished my dreams.’ And then imagine that that future version of you was able to send letters back in time to the you that’s now, and the you that’s now could also send letters to that future self.”
Instead of pressuring yourself to answer every possible question, de Bree noted that the letters can resemble a PowerPoint presentation where some slides have been left blank.
“If you don’t know the answer and if you don’t or can’t think of certain things to say, that’s okay,” she said. “You just leave it blank and write about what you do know, and it comes like a … ‘choose your own ending’ (story).”
One example of reassurance your future self can provide your current self is to say that the coronavirus pandemic enabled them to find happiness and joy in everyday, simple things, de Bree noted.
Another example could be that the pandemic helped your future self realize they didn’t want to go back to their previous hectic, fast-paced lifestyle once things returned to normal, or that their job layoff during the pandemic led them to finding a new career that they really loved.
“Not everyone is going to be able to do this based on your mental health,” de Bree said. “But if you’re able to, it’s a really wonderful way to capture the silver lining.”