IMPORTANCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTANCING
17 July, 2021 (Consolace Counselling Services)
THE NEED FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTANCING
'Keep away from fire! Stay away from strangers! Avoid bad company!'
We have been listening to such advisories since childhood and have been telling the same to our kids and loved ones. There is no qualms in the fact that the best way to protect ourselves from getting hurt is to keep distance from the things, people or events that hurt us. The best example to prove it is the current trend of social distancing. The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the lives of people across the world so badly that the only way to stay safe from being coronavirus positive is by maintaining social distance. Have you ever wondered that if social distancing can help in taking care of your physical health then why can't psychological distancing help in maintaining your mental health?
What is Psychological Distancing?
In simple words, psychological distancing means stepping back from the situations or people who disturb your mental health. It is basically a psychological method that brings a change in the way we approach a negative event and also helps us in gaining perspective.
A few months back Radhika (name changed) approached me to get counselling support following a tragic event in her life. From the conversation we had, it was quite clear that she was still dwelling on the hurtful memories. She said, "I feel absolutely restless and anxious." The task before us was to divert her focus from the hurt and anger she was going through. I suggested her to psychologically distance herself from the negative events that happened in her life. I know, it is not as easy as it sounds.
How do you develop psychological distancing?
Here is how you can mentally distance yourself from disturbing events and bothersome people.
- Imagine moving away in your mind's eye: Simply imagine yourself travelling away from situations causing you mental unrest. Start imagining something different rather than repeatedly imagining things that is hurting you. It will help in reducing the impact caused by such events to some extent.
- Analyse the situation from the eyes of your future self: Sometimes when you look back at things happened in the distant past, you may gain a different perspective regarding the same. Hence, when you feel emotionally down, try to see things the way you would see it in the future.
- Focus on the positive: Share your emotional trauma and the mental struggles following it with someone you trust. They might help you in looking at the brighter side of the event. If everything and everyone fails, you should not hesitate in seeking professional help.
- Radhika was gradually able to develop psychological distancing under the guidance of our adept counsellors. She became much calmer and relieved after a few sessions. We all are going through a tough phase. Many of us are in a state of physical and emotional breakdown. But one thing that we can do to help ourselves in this difficult time is to practice psychological distancing to save our emotional health the same way we practice social distancing to take care of our physical well-being.