I just want to use this blog post to talk more directly about reactions you may be having to this unprecedented life experience dealing with consequences of the COVID-19 virus and to offer my perspective . . . in other words, thoughts to consider and tips that can help keep you feeling more centered and balanced.
You are facing several very important challenges at once . . . at the minimum, your physical, mental/emotional and economic health and well-being are under the microscope. And who could have guessed that you would be asked to maintain physical distance alone (read, physical isolation + social connection) or with family members you never expected to spend so much time with?!
Despite everything that is taking place – and often at hyper-speed – I hold an optimistic view of humanity and who we can become on the other side of this experience. I’ll talk about that more in future posts; for right now I plan to talk pretty realistically about the way I see things and I do that because it’s one way I can support you. Heck, I wrote a book about dealing with unpleasant feelings; I’m not about to sugarcoat anything now!
I know that very legitimate feelings of fear and anxiety (yes, words I don’t commonly use) may be at the forefront of your thinking. Perhaps you have faced anxiety/panic attacks in recent days or felt like you had to be super alert or hyper-vigilant about whatever is coming next. You might even have reactions of numbness, confusion or shock then followed by an even greater range of feelings that might include sadness (and tearfulness), disappointment, despair (tied to helplessness), anger or rage.
All very normal given the circumstances. Let me repeat that: all very normal given the circumstances.
We’re going through an unprecedented time. The brain handles life experiences by taking our lived present (our current life experiences) and our anticipated future experiences by comparing them to the ones we’ve had in the past. Except no one has been through what we are going through right now. There’s no place for the brain to put this experience, and go, “okay, I got this one; it’s like what you experienced when you were ___.”
Consequently, you may end up feeling more disorganized and unsettled (vulnerable) because there has been nothing like this before and no place to mentally “put” this experience. When an experience / event / situation is unfamiliar, a common first response of the brain is to feel less safe and maybe threatened (again, vulnerable). The more familiarity, the more the brain can settle down. Given that the only thing to anticipate right now is uncertainty and unpredictability, feeling off-center, off balance and a bit wobbly makes a whole lot of sense.
Here’s what you can do right now:
1. Create a sense of ritual / routine by organizing activities during the day as if you were going to work or your children were in school. A sense of routine lends itself to a greater sense of order; a greater sense of order helps calm the brain.
- a) Clean up and shower as if you were going somewhere – you’re typical more upbeat out of pajamas all day rather than staying in them.
- b) Build activities into your schedule that you may have not been there before, such as exercise, meditation, journaling or prayer.
2. As I talk about in my 90 Seconds book, choose to hold attitudes that bolster resilience. The idea that ‘every experience in my life is or can become a learning experience’ is a nice place to start. [The list starts on page 225 if you’re interested.]
I’m being asked to share my perspective on a variety of interviews/summits regarding how to handle our mental/emotional reactions more effectively. I’ll post links or the interviews themselves as another resource for you.
There’s lots more to say, so watch for more information that hopefully helps you restore a sense of balance as you negotiate this new landscape.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay well.
Know that I’m praying for and holding the vision for your safety and well-being.