CJ Clinkscales is currently working towards his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP). He obtained his MA in Clinical Psychology in 2021 at GSPP. CJ’s previous clinical experience has allowed him to work with children, adolescents, and adults in individual, group, couples, and family therapy, as well as to provide psychological assessment and supervision across multiple settings.
As the world has begun to heal from our collective invisible enemy, COVID-19, we, as individuals and communities, are encountering a new, uncomfortable next step in healing: reconnecting.
Reconnecting can look like many different things. There are ways in which we might long to reconnect with ourselves; venturing out to our favorite coffee shop, going out with friends, working out, or simply engaging in things we once used to take care of ourselves that we have not been able to do for a multitude of reasons. Reconnecting can also be community based; engaging with friends, family, and public and community spaces in ways that you were not comfortable with, limited, or prohibited. Further, reconnection has many mental health benefits as it can increase our sense of stability, connectedness which can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, isolation, and hopelessness. At the root of healthy reconnection is personal safety. Safety can feel a bit tricky to find, especially in the wake of feeling individually or communally unsafe. The trust we all knew and operated in was uprooted, and we all had to recalibrate our own understandings of trust and safety.
The most important piece, when reconnecting (however you might define this), is naming and recognizing your own comfort levels of safety and operating within them. Safety is subjectively defined, which can be hard to sit with. Especially if your definitions of safety are different from what other loved ones, society, or the world operate under. That said, you define what does and does not feel safe for you. Thus, taking time to reflect on what those specific boundaries are will help create meaningful ways to reconnect with yourself, your community, and the world.
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Here are a few reflective questions you can ask yourself to help establish safe boundaries for reconnection:
- Ask yourself, what aspects of isolation do I wish to continue?
- What can I do to take care of myself, whether that be time alone, reading, exercise, meditation, massage, etc.?
- What situations are comfortable for me? Are there different levels of comfort based on these situations?
- How can you make time for transitioning to and from activities?
- How do I keep myself and others safe knowing others might not share my beliefs?
- What can I do to not overexert or overbook myself?
It is important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, though our local community is healing and open in ways it has not for over two years. Practicing cleanliness, social distancing, and checking in with yourself regarding your own safety and comfort is important. These can help manage stress, and aid in the transitional process.
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There is not one correct way of reconnecting. Some people might want to jump headfirst into the deep end, while others might wish to wade into the water or watch from afar. Knowing what works best for you and communicating this to others in your life will benefit you and them in reconnecting in healthy ways that cultivate a more stable social community. Be kind to yourself and remember that you are the expert of yourself, especially when in the process of healing and reconnecting.
About the Ardent Grove Foundation
Ardent Grove is a non-profit therapy clinic focused on providing quality, trauma-informed therapeutic care and education to the community at a very low cost. AGF’s therapy clinic offers services at a minimum cost, and we treat various types of difficulties for adults, children, families, and couples, as well as psychologist testing. Through donations and grants, we are able to fulfill our mission to provide community outreach support at no cost and also affordable therapy options.
AGF's community outreach efforts include free virtual and in-person educational discussions in the form of meeting presentations, town-hall meetings, staff retreats, and podcast interviews, to various groups all over Colorado.
Please reach out for yourself, your child, or a friend and see what we can offer with a free consultation by calling 303-704-4062. The foundation would also love your support in the form of a donation.