Coping with Catastrophe

Guest Columnist – Dr. Phil Heller – Clinical and Forensic Psychologist

Over the last couple months, the world and all our lives have left everything we have come to know as normal.

To date more than 100,000 people have died in the Gratitude QuoteUnited States from this viral pandemic.

Due to the ravages of Covid-19, many businesses have closed leaving millions unemployed or furloughed waiting with the promise of federal relief. As the public tries to orchestrate social and financial changes, they are experiencing tremendous anxiety and depression or just the fear of falling ill. Compound that with adjusting to “social distancing” and “sheltering in place.”
Many of us have experienced natural disasters – be they hurricanes, tornadoes, or thunderstorms – but these incidents, unlike our current disaster, have an end in sight. The virus is contagious, and a second round is possible in the fall which heightens the anxiety as everything remains an unknown.

As a clinical psychologist practicing in the community, I have the opportunity of learning from my patients. When questioned about their experience in ISOLATION and QUARANTINE, some did not like living alone, but appreciated the solitude to read, study, and mange their once hectic lives with respite, while some couples felt refuge with one another in relishing their family time.

But the key is to take it day by day.

Some individuals are trying to work from home while they are home schooling their children. While these have been difficult days to endure, we must try not to discount the positive. If you can find the simplest of joy in each passing day, the fear and worry dissipate and gratitude, no matter how small, will always triumph. It is important to talk, share, and be aware of your feelings as you move through these tough times, or you may find an effective therapist who understands your feelings and can validate your concerns. When I see or talk with my patients they feel as if they have a valuable resource and relief from the news and the recurring difficult feelings.

It is also beneficial, in these days rolling into one another of the same backdrop, to keep a similar schedule each day i.e., breakfast, meditation/exercise, work activity, lunch, end of day family time, or dinner with bedtime being the same time each evening.

Although, anxiety, worry, and uncertainty will still prevail throughout this unprecedented time, the home has always been regarded as a sacred shelter and the true reward is finding the joy and sweetness of being safe with loved ones and family.

Dr. Phil Heller is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist. His expertise and therapeutic area of focus is in neuropsychology. He has practiced in Boca Raton, Florida, for over 30 years and is a member of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee.


Dr. Phil Heller, Psy. D., P.A. Dr. Phil Heller, Psy. D., P.A.