Maybe, like me, you’ve been scrolling your social media and found yourself frozen.
Maybe, like me, you have a sense of dread and can’t exactly identify why.
Maybe, like me, someone just asked you a simple question with a simple answer, and you burst into tears that you can’t stop.
Maybe, like me, your breath is short and you can’t quite form sentences. For the life of you, you can’t think straight or accomplish a task, but if asked what is wrong, you can’t put to words how you feel.
Maybe, like me, you aren’t just generally anxious, you already experienced episodes of crushing anxiety before your social media feeds exploded with photos of empty shelves, school cancellations, and so much more.
Maybe, like me, you are trying to walk through a global crisis while also managing very real, heavy and unexplainable feelings.
The reality is that we all need to take a moment to acknowledge that this is incredibly overwhelming and that it’s okay if we feel like we can’t manage daily things like making lunch, checking if we have enough pain reliever or finding activities to keep our kids busy. Because right now, our hearts are so overwhelmed with uncertainty that a fear of the unknown has settled heavily in our souls. A lot of us just don’t know what to do with that feeling.
Last week, I was already experiencing some physical symptoms of anxiety… even before my news feeds exploded. Last week I was already here, and now there is a global pandemic. If I’m really honest, I feel like I’m failing at managing this as a person, without even walking through how I’m supposed to be leading my kids through all of this.
However while that is how I feel, I am working on focusing on what is true. I heard a song yesterday that said:
I’m not sure I’ve ever needed words more now, and perhaps you feel the same. In the middle of large episodes of anxiety, finding ways to ground myself has been helpful, if not vital to keeping myself in somewhat of a healthy mind space. The honest truth is that I have to continue to do these things over and over – this is not a “complete this list and you will be fine” type of advice, but a list of practices we all need to implement right now in order to keep our hearts in a good place.
I am not a therapist, but I do want to share a few suggestions that I have found helpful, and you may as well. That said, while practicing social distancing may imply that a therapy session is out of the question, if you need that, please reach out to a professional to see about a phone or video session or other options so you can get the support you need – find our resource at the bottom of this post.
“Let’s go make some pancakes…” A friend recently shared that her grandma would say this when life got stressful. Make some pancakes. You can’t solve the problem right now or in the next ten minutes, so start first by busying your body, focusing on something tangible and distracting yourself. Once you’ve done that, you might find your breath has slowed and your mind is in a more peaceful, hopeful state.
Suggestion #1: Slow your Scroll
Your news feed is full right now, but not all of it is educational or informed. Seek out information in limited quantities and go directly to the websites that can give you up to date, accurate information. I’m no expert, but I do know that the constant flow of information, in the name of seeking answers, is doing my heart more harm than good. Choose an hour each day that you will intentionally look for updates and information, and then respect the boundary you’ve set for yourself.
Suggestion #2: Go for a Walk
It seems simple, but we are all spending more time alone and in our homes than we were before. You can easily practice social distancing outside, so go get some fresh air. When my daughter gets overwhelmed, I use these words, which you can speak over yourself: Breathe. In through your nose, out of your mouth. Do it again. Do it until you feel calm.
Suggestion #3: Start a List With a Friend
Find a friend with whom you can be accountable, who can be a support for you. In moments of stress, start a text thread of positivity. One at a time, send messages back and forth of things that are good. This can be as simple as “The sun is out.” By the end of the thread, you both can have 10-20 positive things to read through later in the day and ongoing throughout the week.
Suggestion #4: Acknowledge Your Stress
Take a minute to write down how you feel. There’s something about writing your feelings out that can be therapeutic in itself. Not only does it give you a chance to acknowledge how things feel, but it can help make those feelings more manageable. You don’t have to have a prompt and there is no recommended limit. You can write your feelings on a Post-It, or fill two pages in a journal, just acknowledge all that’s in your heart and your head.