Once upon a pandemic, a resourceful inner child discovered enchanting ways to play happily ever after. Follow this tale of a forlorn adult’s journey to awaken fond childhood memories to rekindle creativity, resilience, and hope.
Jordan, usually a positive, upbeat person, finally succumbed to COVID-19 depression after months of muscling through the pandemic. She tried encouraging thoughts (This will end soon.), distraction (admittedly with a bad habit or two), commiserating with others (socially distanced in the blistering sun suffocating in a mask), and worrying obsessively (How many days should mail be detoxed?). Even strong spiritual faith failed to offer much comfort while pondering deep questions like, “Why would a loving God subject us to all this?”
At first, Jordan sought an antidepressant from a primary physician. Some of Jordan’s symptoms, like insomnia and poor concentration, improved somewhat. However, the existential realities of our current world situation continued to haunt her. At this point, she sought counseling to learn ways to cope.
After empathizing and normalizing Jordan’s struggles with the pandemic, the counselor asked Jordan to recall a happier time in life, perhaps during childhood. Jordan, who had suffered significant childhood abuse, could recall a few happy memories from her youth. Within moments, Jordan felt lighter, more joyful. She found that engaging all five senses in joyful activities boosted her mood and calmed her stress. Here are a few of her coping strategies.
Engage all Five Senses
Pour through old photo albums long abandoned in the attic. You may find photos of gorgeous flowers and enchanting vacation destinations with family.
Check out vintage toys, including Mr. Potato Head, toy cars, Mousetrap games, and Barbie dolls, on Amazon.
Create a work of art. A new trend is diamond painting, a simple, mindful craft hobby that produces quality works of art, including wall hangings, Christmas ornaments, key chains, purses, and even greeting cards.
Listen to happy songs from childhood, high school, or college years to evoke fond memories – maybe even an urge to dance to the lively beat. For those baby boomers out there, here is a memorial tribute song to a 1960’s band comprised of family members. Check out all those cool images and colors.
Soothe yourself with the quiet sounds of birds chirping, and trees rustling in the wind can have quite a soothing effect.
Read aloud childhood fairy tales to evoke a state of lulling fantasy. Movies have their place, but nothing stirs the imagination as much as reading.
And let’s not forget the contagious effect of a baby’s laughter!
Indulge in the tantalizing aroma of cookies baking in the oven? Soothe a bad day’s woes with a whiff of a fresh, hot cookie. Here are a few tips to enhance your cookie recipe. Use an equal mix of butter and peanut oil instead of the suggested oils, mix the baking powder thoroughly with the dry ingredients, cut the flour by a teaspoon, refrigerate the dough overnight, and pile the dough high on the cookie sheet. These minor changes will produce the tastiest, puffy, chewy cookies imaginable.
Try aromatherapy with essential oils such as rose or lavender. These scents calm the anxious brain. Keep a small bottle on hand when feeling stressed or down.
Favorite perfumes and scents associated with happy times (like saltwater, burning leaves, flowers in spring) can quickly place you into a better mood.
Savor the favorite treats you loved as a child. Enjoy them slowly and mindfully.
Check out retro candy from the decade of your youth. The good news is that the candy usually looks better than it tastes. Many adults find their tastes for super sweet candy have dimmed. But it’s still fun to reminisce about the candy, perhaps with a social-media friend from your childhood.
Soothe yourself with cuddly sensations.
Awaken the inner child snuggling with a cozy doll, stuffed animal, weighted blanket, or beloved pet.
Immerse your fingers in some sloppy finger paints of bright colors, lots of playdough, and gooey slime. Just place a protective covering on the floor and table for easy cleanup.
After a couple of weeks of engaging her inner child through her five senses, Jordan felt relief from depressive symptoms. No, the pandemic did not go away, nor did any of its related stressors. However, it was nice to know that a mini fantasy vacation could ease life’s worries.
The story told with permission