I’ve been home for a few weeks now, which is something I haven’t done since I was on maternity leave 13 years ago. What is your current situation? How different is it from what you were doing a few weeks ago? How are you coping? If you’re not feeling a little anxious right now (whether anxiety is a problem for you or not), I’d be surprised; this is a pretty significant thing we are going through. But anxious doesn’t have to mean catastrophe. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be ok. It doesn’t mean that your worst-case-scenario is going to happen.
When we fall into patterns or habits that spoke anxiety it’s crucial for you to call upon the things you do to help yourself feel better. Are you working out regularly? Eating well? How much caffeine are you consuming? How much sleep are you getting each night? Are you practicing mindfulness and meditation? Are you taking your supplements or medications as prescribed? Are you giving yourself permission to not be perfect? Are you taking responsibility for yourself?
When we fall into habits of judgment and blame, look at what could be creating that. You might be surprised at what comes up. When we blame this or that, we actually give them the power for change, but really, no one and nothing can hold that kind of power. Only we hold that power. Isn’t that what self responsibility is all about? If we look at self responsibility as a muscle, it’s something that needs to be developed over time. When we get into the habit of shaming and blaming we give our power away and become helpless to change our situation. If you are struggling right now, it would be really easy to simply blame our current circumstances. But where would that get us? We can also choose to be bothered by the way other people are dealing with our current state of affairs. But really, what other people do is none of our business. It’s not our job to bring awareness to them, that’s their responsibility. Instead, use your energy to look inward and ask, am I safe? Is my family safe? Are we doing our part to flatten the curve? Over the years I’ve helped people look at their anxiety as a powerful tool to activate change. Anxiety is a response to your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. If your anxiety is trying to teach you something, what is it trying to teach you right now? Maybe you need to limit yourself to “need to know” instead of anxiously watching the news. Maybe you need to find internal hobbies and sources of happiness, since we can't rely on the outside world for that at this moment. Or maybe you just need the reminder to live in the moment... that all you have right now, is THIS moment, and in this moment are you healthy and safe. For me right now, it means making sure I exercise. I know that when my heart rate increases it takes the build-up of adrenaline from anxiety and releases it. I also need to monitor my caffeine intake, eat when I take my vitamins, and drink lots of water. It means I’m going to take accountability for myself. Thoughts are just thoughts. Period. When I detach myself from thoughts and recognize them as just that, they don’t have so much power over me. I will look at the bright side of things and be grateful for the extra time I currently have to cook for my family (something I love to do), tackle some deep cleaning that I have been putting off, paint, learn guitar, and keep writing.
Thoughts are just thoughts. Period. When I detach myself from thoughts and recognize them as just that, they don’t have so much power over me.
I know what I need to feel better. Do you know what you need to feel better? What messages is your body trying to tell you? Are you blaming and giving your power away to someone or something?
When you notice yourself slipping from feeling ok to feeling worse, that's the time to reach out and talk to someone. If you haven't had professional help in past, and the idea makes you nervous, take solace in the fact that most of us are feeling at least a little uneasy at the moment, hopefully that will help you feel a little more comfortable to reach out. Many professionals, myself included, are offering creative formats to facilitate discussions during this time of social distancing. It could be as simple as a phone call, or could involve more technology for a virtual counseling session. There are many options.
If you don’t like the chapter you're reading, you have 2 choices: you can continue to turn the page, or you can give it thanks for bringing you to where you are now and choose to start a new chapter. If you choose to start a new chapter, what does that look like? Now is the time that you can really take a look inside and cultivate change.