Coping in Uncertain Times
As I write this on March 30, 2020, it feels like the world as I experience it has changed dramatically over the past two weeks.
Although I have started to adapt to the changing circumstances including social distancing, working from home, and relying on phone and video chats to connect with clients, friends and family, it seems each day brings new changes and my mind and heart are still working to understand and adapt.
I want to share with you 6 ways I have been coping with all the change and uncertainty in the outer world…
1. Acknowledging what I am feeling
In times of uncertainty, disruption and rapid change, it is normal to experience feelings of stress and anxiety. It can be helpful, and important even, to name the emotion, and to share with a trusted friend or therapist. I also remind myself that feelings are just that, and they change with time. Emotions are also not linear or isolated, so it is possible to feel both anxious and appreciative or happy at the same time.
When we are anxious or stressed, it is common to get lost in thinking, and we can actually feel like our heads are full, and even get a headache. Grounding helps bring energy down through the body, and can help relieve mental tension. There are several simple ways to help ground yourself. Bringing attention to your feet, or your sitting bones (if sitting), and allow the weight of your body to gently “settle” downward, with awareness can be very effective. Even better if you are able to get outside, and have your feet on the earth. If you are familiar with yoga, there are postures such as the mountain pose, or a squat that will help ground your energy.
Another way to help calm yourself is to slow and deepen your breath. When we feel anxious or stressed, it is common to breathe more quickly and shallowly, which in turn, fuels our anxiety. Slowing and deepening the breath will help create a relaxation response in the body, which helps to calm our thoughts. Even one slower, deeper breath can be helpful.
4. Practice Gratitude
It can help to balance our sense of stress or worry by remembering those things that we appreciate. It may be simple, such as having a good night’s sleep, having friends and family, enjoying a favourite food, or other things that are meaningful to you. If you can remind yourself at least once a day of at least one thing for which you are grateful, you can start to change your experience.
5. Reach out
I keep hearing the phrase “we are in this together” as we experience a truly global pandemic. In this time when many of us are not able to be with our friends, families, or co-workers , it is important to find ways to keep in touch. We can use phone, video chats and social media to visit with people. And, we can smile and say hello as we pass people (at a safe distance) on the street, or to the people working in the grocery stores and other essential businesses that remain open.
6. Find the silver linings
As these past couple of weeks have unfolded, I have experienced, and heard stories from friends and clients about the unexpected gifts that have come with this time. One woman told me of having a “honeymoon period” with her partner, and experiencing renewed tenderness; another told me she was sleeping better, and sleeping in; a friend told me she was finding time to work on a project that she never seemed to have been able to get too; and there have been countless classes and webinars springing up and opportunities to learn. As for myself, I have started to read books that I have been meaning to get to; cooking favourite foods and experimenting with new recipes, and my cats are happy to have extra belly rubs.
I hope there are even 1 or 2 things that resonate for you, and that you feel you are able to try out in the coming days. May you be safe, and well.
Written by Michele Meehan, Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.
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