So these are turbulent times we are in right now. I know I haven’t been attending to my blog, because by nature, I do not feel I am writer. But I have been feeling compelled to write something with everything that is going on in our world right now.
We are feeling as if everything we know is being turned upside down. We go to the store and if we can find a place to park, the shelves are bare and the lines are long. Even if you were not getting concerned about the recent virus hitting us, once you start to see these things, it triggers something in us. When we visually see these things, are brains start to tell us that we need to worry, maybe even panic. “What is this? What is happening?” So when we do see something, we buy more of it than we would usually, because maybe it will be gone the next time I come to the store.
You turn on the television, or look at social media and we are constantly bombarded with news about the virus spreading and all the precautions that are being taken. I am not a medical professional, so I will not speak on what decisions are being made to help stop the spread of this virus. But I will speak on how this is affecting us mentally and emotionally. It is STRESSING us all out!! Even us, who are in the mental health field, and know how this is all affecting us mentally, are being affected. It is hard not to, we are human too and we are trying to process this all as well!
I know I have preached on Mindfulness before, and I will continue to do so. It is even more imperative now more than ever. We need to just take each moment as it is. I teach in my office everyday, about how anxiety and control go hand and hand. When we feel out of control, guess what? Our anxiety goes right up! So right now, I imagine most of us feel out of control. So our anxiety is through the roof! So we really need to tap into those mindfulness skills. Stay in the moment, we don’t know what the future holds at this time. We need to take each day at a time, each moment at a time. Take a deep breath and look around, what do you see, what do you hear, engage all your senses.
Also, be smart, if you find watching the news and looking at social media is making you more stressed, then cut back on it. Limit the time you are doing these things. Believe me, you are going to find out about the important stuff.
Utilize self talk, remind yourself that this should be temporary. We will get through this. It may be tough for a little while, and none of us like it when things are tough. We want to hurry up through the difficult times and get to the end when we think things are “back to normal.” Again, in my office we talk about this a lot. When we are personally going through a difficult time, we want to “hurry up” through it, and get to where things feel better. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. We have to work through the yucky, uncomfortable and difficult stuff. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t get there. WE WILL GET THERE!! Right here, right now, this is the “yucky, uncomfortable and difficult stuff.” We are ALL going through this and are ALL impacted in some way. We will also get through it and hopefully end up learning from this and become a better person from our experience. I know it may not seem like it right now, believe me I get it. But when you practice your mindfulness, also remind yourself that we will get through this.
I also talk about how when we feel we are in crisis, we go into “survival mode,” and I think that is how all of us are feeling right now. Which is why the store shelves are bare, we are panicking and worried about our survival during this time period. Basic self care is the most important thing when we feel we are in “survival mode.” You need to make sure you are eating properly, getting enough sleep and getting some exercise. Those are the basics, and then build from there. Whatever helps you recharge, maybe you have to modify whatever that is right now. If you enjoy being around people, then stay connected through technology. Do things that you feel recharge you and help keep you grounded. That will be different for everyone, so if you don’t know what that is, keep trying different things! I am a big fan of journaling, I always encourage everyone to at least try it.
So hopefully this helps during this difficult time. When all else fails, see a therapist. They know exactly what you are going through, believe me! Don’t let the whole “social distancing” thing keep you from seeing a trusted therapist. Most of them offer telehealth, which is a viable option during this time, if you are truly concerned. I know it may seem weird or different, but it really isn’t that strange. Just like Facetiming a friend or a video conference for work. Just make sure the therapist is using a Hipaa compliant program, as a lot of therapist are “jumping on the bandwagon,” and may not be using proper programs. (Hint: Facetime is not Hipaa compliant!) So as long as you have a wifi connection and some privacy (you can sit in your car in your garage or driveway if you have to!), you can do telehealth with a therapist.
Stay healthy, stay positive and stay true to yourself! We will overcome!