Avital Hoschander Soep, Psy.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
At the beginning of the pandemic, hard to believe almost a full year ago, the distinction between frontline worker and “everyone else” seemed clear. The frontline workers were and still are the ones who bravely donned their PPE, traveled to and from essential places of employment, putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk to battle an unknown enemy.
However, since then the distinction has blurred. As we have all gotten to know our enemy better and accepted our new reality, each person has had to fight their own frontline battle. Whether it is a parent struggling to get their child services at school, which are now more limited due to masks and mandatory quarantines, a grandparent grappling with not being able to hold their new grandchild until they receive their second or even first vaccine, or a teacher planning yet another Zoom lesson having never met their students, we are all in some way soldiers – each carrying a load that is unique to us.
In DBT, a skill taught as part of the Distress Tolerance module is known as Improve the Moment. Improve itself is an acronym for a variety of techniques that can be utilized in response to longstanding stress. Yet, the spirit of the skill can be simply inferred by the word “improve.” It encourages us to ask ourselves: how do we get through this singular moment in time, place one foot in front of the other, and continue to fight when it seems all hope is lost? Some rely on creating meaning, finding the lemonade in the lemons of a day-to-day struggle. Others turn to prayer, asking a higher power to take the reins when it feels like they have nothing left to give. But perhaps the ones who can most successfully implement this technique are those who can look inward, encouraging themselves by noticing just how far they have come and the strength that it took to get there. This involves acknowledging our own accomplishments, regardless of their relative size or in comparison to the accomplishments of others.
If we can each take this one step in our own individual frontline, we will be one step closer towards improving the moment and progressing towards a hopefully brighter future.