As life is opening up more and more now, it seems like a good time to check in.
How are you doing?
I was recently re-reading an article I wrote in March 2020 right after COVID-19 was declared a world pandemic.
It’s about how to use our inner resources in challenging times.
Interestingly, I found it still quite relevant, even though “things” are opening up and the infection rates are way down due to the diligence of the shut downs and the vaccination programs in place.
So why would this time now be challenging if we are opening up and people are embracing getting back to some sort of “normalcy?”
The short answer: because it can be challenging to resume “normal” under the circumstances we’ve all been through over the last 16+ months.
I keep reading article after article about how stressed and anxious people are to resume their “normal” life.
And, many of the clients I’m currently working with or have worked with over the last 4-6 months have had a lot of underlying stress and anxiety, that has surfaced as a result of getting ready for fully emerging back into “normal.”
There are so many issues going on right now as we emerge from our isolation.
Do any of these situations resonate with you?
You’ve been working from home are finding that you’re not exactly embracing going back in the office, for a number of reasons.
Perhaps you are not looking forward to needing to wear “office clothes,” when it’s been so comfortable to work in sweats.
And, maybe you are finding your office clothes no longer fit because you’ve gained that COVID 15, 20 or more pounds-and are embarrassed to be seen.
Then there the issue of child care and finding a place for the children who were managed by you or family while working from home.
Many parents have noticed their children have become less social and worry about the isolation’s impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing.
You loved the flexibility you had working from home and now dread the more rigid schedule you are going to be on.
You’ve gotten used to being your own “bubble” and getting out and socializing again feels awkward.
You are worried about all the politics concerning the vaccines and the possible confrontations that may occur in work or social groups.
Maybe you don’t trust that those going without masks are vaccinated and you are worried you could be a breakthrough case, even if you are vaccinated.
On top of all the worries of being out in a world that still is experiencing COVID illnesses and deaths, even if the rates have abated where you are, there is such a divide in politics in general with less tolerations of others, you wonder if you even want to emerge!
And, any underlying anxieties you may have pushed down prior to the pandemic or found it easier to hide, are now surfacing big time. That can feel very overwhelming in addition to the other concerns being faced at this time.
All of these situations can be just as challenging as when we faced all the uncertainty when we first went into lockdown.
We’re all experiencing some of these new challenges in some form or another, as none of us alive today has ever experienced a global pandemic experienced like this before and even as we want it to be over with, and want to resume our lives again, emerging from it can trigger more worries, fears and anxieties.
Anytime life looks and feels uncertain, it can jolt us into our protective primitive part of our brain that simply wants to get away from danger and stay safe. This survival instinct puts us on “alert” for all that might possibly go wrong, keeping a vigilant eye out for “the dangers out there.”
As a result, we stay encapsulated in fear, worries, and stress.
This anxiety-fear-stress response is definitely an asset for our survival. The problem is when we are consumed by it, it overrides our cognitive abilities and we can be subject to staying frozen in this unhealthy state.
There are things we still need to be diligent about, for sure.
Yet, we don’t want to let fear, anxiety and stress overwhelm us and/or consume us during this time of emerging into our world again.
Now, more than ever, it’s vital to re-visit how we can keep our mental and emotional self in as a resilient state as possible.
One of the ways to do this is to practice being mindful.
I read about the “Apple Technique” in one of my many readings back in 2020 and I think it is still a valuable way to stay present and keep building your emotional resilience as you enter into a world that has undoubtably been changed by this global event.
- Acknowledge the uncertainties that come up for you.
- Don’t suppress them.
- When you acknowledge them, it lessens their hold on you and they can’t lurk in the background so easily.
- Shine the light on those fears and they lose much of their power!
- Pause-one of my “tools” in my book is to STOP! Stop, Think, Observe, then proceed.
- Or simply stop and pause and BREATHE!
- When you take a moment to consciously breathe in deep into your belly, you stop the rampant borage of negative worrisome thoughts-even for just a few moments.
- Pull back-in alignment with pausing/stopping.
- Tell yourself (after your pause and breath time) that you don’t need to believe everything you think. It’s just the worry talking.
- It’s only a thought or feeling.
- Thoughts are not statements or facts most of the time-especially when they are focused on the doomsday scenarios.
- Let go-let go of the thoughts or feelings that are adding to your distress.
- Tell yourself “these thoughts will pass.”
- Imagine them floating away on a cloud or in a big bubble….away and away they go.
- Explore-your present moment. Right now, right here in this very moment-all is well.
- Feel your feet on the ground. Notice how they touch the floor.
- Notice the sensations of your breathing…how your chest and belly rise on the inhale and sink back down on the exhale.
- Look around you and notice the colors you see in your environment. What do you see, hear, smell. What can you touch?
- Right now in this moment being aware of what is. Then shift your focus to something else. Perhaps on what you need to do-right now-or what you were doing before the anxiety and worry took hold.
- Be mindful with your full attention to the moment.
Here are some other ways to stop the anxiety and cultivate more resilience:
Limit your time watching or reading the news.
Read news from reliable resources. Stay away from any sensational type of news articles or programs.
Connect with your family, friends and community at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
If there is a very negative doomsday person in your life, do your best to support them in feeling better, but don’t allow their negative energy to drain you. That doesn’t serve you or anyone else.
Work outside in the garden, if you have one and the temperature and weather permit.
Take a walk outside. If you can’t be out in Nature per se, walk around your neighborhood.
There’s nothing like getting out in the fresh air. While walking, be observant of the vegetation, the new growth perhaps beginning on some plants, the shape of trees and/or what birds you may see.
If you have children living with you and are home from school, take them for a walk too and make a game out of what you see.
Sit and think about what you are grateful for and even write it down.
Gratitude opens the heart. It fills us up with positive feelings. Who doesn’t need and want that?!
i.e.: I’m grateful I have a comfortable home to live in right now. I’m grateful for my loving husband. I’m grateful I can cook. I’m grateful for my friends. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for the community I live in.
Give yourself permission to feel good.
With all we’ve endured over this period of time, take some time to acknowledge you are worthy to be here.
When we take actions to be proactive for the health of our well-being, there can be a tendency to feel “guilty” for feeling good and positive, when everyone else seems to be freaking out. But that won’t help anything.
Your feel good self can radiate out and help others.
Your calm emotionally resilient self is needed in the world.
The more we can all contribute to staying mentally, physically and emotionally healthy, the better we can support our communities, families, and friends in finding the best solutions to manage and overcome these and any challenging times.
And, the faster we can actually get back to “normal.”
Wishing you love and health,
Your Stress & Anxiety Relief Specialist