Do what you can!
Guest Writer: Mary Ann Boyle
The just risen sun glints horizontal through the trees. It’s early. I’m up and out. A run through the woods. The options are limited in the midst of this pandemic. But I can still run; albeit by myself. This morning there were two deer, both surprised me. One leapt across the path in front of me. The other rustled in the woods beside the trail. I would rather be startled in the early dawn by the magnificence of a leaping deer than the headlines and the body count as COVID-19 marches on. I would rather lose myself in birdsong among the trees than hopelessness and the lethargy it can bring.
Somedays I run. Somedays I ride. In neither case is the commitment a big one. But it is steady. Forty-five minutes tops and I call it good. Good enough. Some is better than none, I tell my clients. I live the words I speak. I’m a licensed mental health counselor in the midst of unchartered waters. People are sad, lonely, isolated, depressed, unsure of the moment and uncertain about the future. Is there a normal we will return to? There are so many questions without answers but what we CAN KNOW is what we CAN DO.
You can be a friend to yourself. You can act from a place of self-kindness. This is not about being heroic or super-human. It’s about being enough; and acting like you’re worth taking care of. It’s not will power. It’s making a plan and sticking with it. Make it simple enough that you can.
There is abundant evidence that moving our bodies is good for both mental and physical health. It can be a stroll or a dance, a ride or a swim. You can go for a hike or a forest cleansing. The gyms will reopen but they can’t replace the benefits of being in nature. They can supplement it for sure. They can help you to build your muscles and endurance thereby opening doors to daylight and fresh air. Physical therapists and other healers can facilitate that opening too. They can help you to learn how to heal yourself when you’ve transitioned from your ergonomic work station to your saggy couch. They can support your wellness, the relaxation of your shoulders, and the softening of the muscles in your neck after you binge watch the news or Netflix.
Mental health counselors can help you to find a new equilibrium and a new perspective. We can walk beside you as you mourn the losses that this extraordinary moment drops at your feet. We can breathe with you and listen carefully as you nudge yourself forward into the unknown. We can help you know that you’re not alone. You have company in this crisis.
I can’t leap like a deer, or even bounce like the bunnies that skitter along the trail’s edge. My muscles are slack and my bones are weak. But I can shuffle through the forest at a snail’s pace and call it a run because it makes me feel better than calling it a jog. These days I may need to jog my memory but I’m still in charge of naming my run. I feel better when I do what I can. You will too.
Mary Ann Boyle is an action-oriented therapist working with adults and couples. She utilizes a bio-psycho-social approach in effort to assist clients in achieving a balanced experience of wellness. Mary Ann specializes in the areas of depression, anxiety, life transitions, motivation, supporting clients in the maximizing of their potential, and gay and lesbian issues. Mary Ann utilizes her passion for literature, physical activity, and the building of community to aid clients in their own process.
Mary Ann received her Bachelor of Arts from Western Washington University in the field of psychology and her Master of Arts in psychology from Antioch University, Seattle. She owns and practices at Northwest Behavioral, Inc in Bellingham, WA.