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Living In the Present When It Isn’t Pleasant

Finding Your Best Life During Lock Down

Living in the present is a great skill to have. It means instead of focusing on worries in the future and troubles from the past, you live in the moment with your emotions appreciating the good, managing the bad. Not only does being in the present help you manage your emotions and thoughts, it also has great physical benefits such as improved memory and sleep, increased productivity and lower blood pressure (source). Some of us are active in pursuing mindfulness to live in the moment, for example through meditation or just by conscious effort while most of us find ourselves are present without actively trying to be in various times in our lives. For example when enjoying a good conversation or a good piece of cake. It’s something that comes to us naturally. It’s more a skill we lose rather than a kind of skill we need to learn from scratch though often not utilized or fostered.

The question though arises, what happens when we don’t like the present? When being in the present just causes us unhappiness? During these times of lock down and or quarantine when a lot of things that give us joy and peace are taken away from us, our friends, traveling, adventure, hobbies, gyms, churches to name a few. Instead we find ourselves with limited freedom with many things taken away from us such as security and certainty. I feel as though my life has been taken from me, and I can only live a sleepy version. It’s normal to be forward thinking, to look forward to the day this ends and life can resume how we knew it. Some days I wake up counting down the days till this ends. I dream of what I will do when restrictions are lifted. It’s hard to remind myself to live in the present and to live my best life when I feel like I can’t.

Why even bother living in the present if I don’t like it? For one, it’s important to remember that each day is still a unique day in your life, even if each day feels the same. This is your life and you only have one. Don’t like anyone or anything take the beauty and rarity of that away from you. You are still living and you can still fill your days with joys, joys you may have forgotten. Things such as old hobbies (I took up drawing again, first time since high school), perhaps you can phone a friend you haven’t talked to in a while or just make sure each day you treat yourself to something you like or liked as a child – for example candy, popcorn for dinner. Don’t lose your life because it’s not the same as it was before. You still owe it to yourself to live.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Living in the moment doesn’t mean just being happy. It’s also about embracing your mood no matter what it is and accepting it. You might feel sad and frustrated. Don’t minimize that but instead work through it with compassion and patience to yourself. Spend the time to become stronger in managing your feelings and getting to know yourself. Learn to love every aspect of you. Because living a life true to yourself is the best life you can lead. And that’s something you can do no matter the circumstances.

The Wounds We Carry Every Day

Emotional Baggage

No one has had a pain free life. All of us have had some pain inflicted on us either by other people or through traumas that have happened in our lives. We carry these around with us unaware of their existence, like scars on our back we are not able to see and often forget that they are there in the first place.

Even when these scars or wounds are reopened, we are so often oblivious to their existence. We wonder why we are reacting in a certain way or wonder how another person could have done such a horrible thing but live blissfully unaware of how much they hurt us. Sounds familiar but still quite uncertain what I mean? Here are some examples:

  • When Emma’s husband yells at the kids, she pushes him away emotionally and physically distancing herself. “Men are so abusive – it disgusts me he can be so full of anger and violent” she says.
  • John loves Marie and generally feels safe with her, yet when they go to parties and he catches her talking to another man, it infuriates him. “Especially when she laughs I think, how dare she”.
  • Tina is a friendly person and widely liked around the office. One day her co-worker jokes: “Yeah Tina, no one likes you here, clearly you are the most disliked person in the office” she breaks down and retreats to the bathroom. Her co-worker is left shocked that his joke could be so misunderstood and is perplexed.

In all these cases you can notice how something fairly normally, like telling a child off, talking to someone at a party or making a light heartened joke triggers something much bigger in people. To other people it seems like an overreaction, yet to the people experiencing these emotions, it is a deep pain that is being awakened. An old scar being scratched open to bleed. Because there is so much more behind these stories:

  • Emma had a violent abusive father and brother. Seeing her husband showing traits of similar behavior triggers a defense mechanism in her.
  • John was cheated on by his last partner. He thought they were happy and he never saw the signs. He swore himself to never be deceived again.
  • Tina spent years isolated in High School and had a hard time fitting in as she loved math and was good with numbers. In the accounting office she worked in, she found her place with like-minded people. She was scared these people would shun her anytime and that she would go back to being all alone like in high school.

We all have such experiences and sometimes other people trigger them in us. The scary thing is we are unaware of them, otherwise we would work towards closing those scars. So how do you recognize them and manage them? But also, what if you inflict such a pain on someone else? What should Emma’s husband, Marie or the co-worker do?

brown and white bear plush toy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Triggers can be recognized but a strong emotional and sometimes also physical reaction. You can be laughing one minute and the next minute this intense feeling overtakes. If you find yourself sudden switch your emotion, observe it. See if you can label it. Take a minute to figure out what it is. Don’t push it away under the rug, just take a minute to observe the feeling. Is it anger or fear? Is it directed towards yourself or to others? What is this feeling telling me to do?

Then ask yourself, truly honestly, where is this coming from? Have I felt this before? Your first reaction will most likely be “I don’t know”. But you do. Trust me you do. Even if you do not want to know. A big scar like that that needs stitches, you’ll remember where you got it from. Just keep digging. The more you understand yourself the more balanced and at peace you will be. These scars were inflicted on you and are a part of you. They always will be. You cannot run from them, they will always be there.

To that fact, a lot of the time people don’t want to hurt us. They do not want to reopen these scars. Forgive them for not being aware or the things that you are even hiding from yourself. Rather, thank them for making you aware of a pain you have been carrying.

If you are the one inflicting such a pain on others without meaning too, it still means you should apologize. Don’t blame the person for what was done to them, just like you can’t blame yourself for hurting them without wanting to. The greatest kindness you can give to others and yourself is validation and compassion. Apologize for the hurt they are feeling. “I am sorry I caused you to hurt” and “I am sorry I did not mean to hurt you”. But don’t feel negative towards yourself. If you would have known their pain you wouldn’t have tried to cause it. Just focus on them and their pain and show some love. As the Beatles say, love is all we need. If we had had that in the first place, perhaps these scars wouldn’t have come into existence in the first place.

 

Forbidden Words: Mental Health

It almost sounds counter intuitive to claim “Mental Health” as forbidden words. It has become rather trendy over the last couple of years to mention mental health. Ever since “burn out” became a large issue for employers a couple of years ago, companies are offering webinars and workshops on managing your mental health. Luckily it has become a topic that is written about, with dedicated coaches, instagram accounts and professionals. The reason though I still claim it’s forbidden comes from the following thoughts: When was the last time you took a mental health day? Have you ever mentioned to a friend you were worried about your mental health? Have you confided in someone you think they have mental health issues and should see a professional?

Some of us have done one of those, few of us all. The reason being there is still a large stigma around mental health. It’s “woke” to mention it in general terms but it’s still such a private matter to bring it up in the context of yourself or others around you (but we feel fine referencing Britney Spears’ mental breakdown). We rarely take that extra step to allow the term into our everyday lives. There is still the feeling that if you don’t have mental health you have a mental illness. Which are, to be frank, quite terrifying. I once sat across from a mentally ill person in a tram. They kept talking and laughing to themselves and it hit me how tragic it is to lose your mind. Losing a leg is horrific too, but at least you still have your mind. Without our minds, what is left of us? We all fear not being able to function in our lives, mental illness disables that. Hence the absence of mental health to a lot of people means the presence of a mental illness. There is something terminal about that. Like once you are mentally ill, it means psych wards and instability for the rest of your life. Unlike when you have a flu and you are considered “sick” – everyone expects you to bounce back. But when you have depression – its a lifelong sentence as a emotionally unstable person.

This is misconception number one. Just because you are too depressed to give 100% at work does not mean you have lost yourself and are mentally ill. Mental illness is a prolonged state where you need professional help to function through every day life. Just because your mental health is suffering it doesn’t mean you suffer from a mental illness. We all have ups and downs in life and no living being, not even a dog or a fish goes through one single, pleasant emotion in life. Sometimes its just that your mental health suffers due to many trying external factors. With some self-acceptance, you can be kind to yourself and admit when you need to take a step back. I think the first step is really with oneself. To accept the fact that you might not be doing fine and that your mental health is suffering. I understand it sounds heavy but you will find a great sense of relief and love towards yourself if you confess “I am not ok. I am suffering”. Just try saying that out loud. It is almost empowering to be able to admit it to yourself. As with many things in life, it all starts with you being honest with yourself. Once you own mental health as a topic to yourself, its easier to accept it in others.

Owning the topic means understanding that state of your mental health and when you need to focus on it more. Only when you can talk about something, can you engage in activities about it. Which is something we all need to do. If we did it, there wouldn’t be such a stigma about it because we would all have the same understanding as what mental health means, namely “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being”. Not too scary now is it. We need to talk about it as such. We need to be clear on what we mean with mental health otherwise it just will not be addressed. If its always in the context of being mentally ill, then we will not be able to ensure mental health for anyone. Which is a thing most people can do. Here are some ways to manage your mental health:

  • Check in with yourself and ask yourself “How am I doing?”.
  • If you have a stressful job, force yourself to take a 5min break/ walk. Yes, force yourself. Actively push yourself to take a break to invite more balance into your life. Force yourself to be healthy. Anyone can wait 5min for you, its like a toilet break. They will survive, just give it a go.
  • Accept your feelings. If you are feeling a certain way just listen to the emotion. You don’t have to do anything about it but also, don’t sweep it under the rug. You can label it, you can give it a name “oh I’m feeling like Herbert is around again” – what ever you need to be able to acknowledge the emotion.
  • Don’t minimize it. Don’t claim stuff like: “Most people don’t have any mental health issues” because how would you know about people’s emotional well-being? If you feel like you do, ask yourself what they know about yours. Do they know how you feel when you have to present in a big meeting? Or when you have to give someone bad news? Do they know what thoughts are in your head before you go to sleep? No. And you don’t know theirs.

I know its fear that drives people not to look into themselves, fear of admitting to themselves how they are actually feeling and handling life. Most of us are suffering and we don’t know what to do about it. Start with being honest to yourself and then, start embracing the vulnerable you in order to become complete.

 

Love in the Time of Covid-19

Managing a romantic relationship during quarantine and lock down

Romantic relationships are a wonderful addition to life. Having a partner that loves you, gives you affection and goes through life with you no matter what challenges are thrown at you is a privilege. Yet as everyone in a romantic relationship knows, it doesn’t come easy. Two (or more!) people with different backgrounds, upbringings, insecurities, needs, dreams, fears to say the least come together to live life together as a unity. See a bit of a inconvenience there? If you do – you are correct. To love is a verb, which means it’s something you do not something that just is. It’s an activity and just refers to your feelings towards the other person. It doesn’t cover the managing your life and your routine together – which is a whole different obstacle. Usually we can go about our day to day lives and only have to align when we’re sharing the time together. Yet during lock down this all changes.

During lock down or quarantine – you are forced to share more of your time and your personal freedom with another person. With a person with whom you are at time vulnerable. A person that has seen most sides to you and knows your in and outs. We all know you cannot love everything about a person. I love chocolate muffins, but I do not love the fact that they are unhealthy for me and make me fat. Humans are so multi-facet beings its just impossible to love every aspect of a human. Accept it is another thing. You may accept it and find it cute, but as mentioned, humans are so diverse and so is life there are plenty of circumstances where the things might seem less ideal – you may love your husband’s ambition in general, but not when you are both doing a puzzle together. In this circumstance, you are confronted with all the less ideal things about your partner.

And not just that. Another thing occurs when you spend so much time in lock down – not only do you spend so much more time together, the space between you is also limited. Things that you were able to push away or shove under the rug and now constantly coming to the surface. Any confrontations or issues you may have been able to avoid due to time and space can no longer be avoided and will come up. Without a doubt. It’s not a wonder that divorce rates spiked after China opened up its lock down (article). This time will make you or let you know what you cannot live with going forward.

So here are some tips about it:

  1. Work it out. Whatever it is, it’s time to figure it out. Get it out of the way. I know its hard and it could be things that have been bothering you for 10 years and you think they will never change. Well you never thought you would be in lock down now did you. Circumstances may change. And while I believe people don’t – but their behaviors can. Try to think of a solution – What would work for you. What can you handle and what not. Try to come to a middle ground that both your needs are met and your partners. Even if partially. Its a partnership – not a single person ship. You both have a stake in the matter and a stake to the claim of needs.
    Try a new technique like coming from a place of compassion to understand what your partner may be feeling and why. What are his needs that are needing to be met and go from there.
  2. Still schedule date night together. Yes you may see each other every night. But put aside a special night for just the two of you. It will feel different and make you feel like you are acknowledging and appreciating each other. Give your partner some special attention, and the most sexiest thing one human can give to another – a listening ear.
  3. If you have nothing to talk about then don’t. Don’t push it. Don’t force yourself to spend every evening together, watch every movie together, do every zoom call with the family together. Be active in giving each other space when you can’t physically and perhaps breaking some traditions in doing so. It’s a weird time, allow yourself some leeway.

Love is hard in the most normal circumstances. Let alone during this crazy sh*t. Love yourself, have compassion with yourself and then figure out how to spread that love with your significant other. See it as house keeping – clear the items away that were of no use and collecting dirt, maintain and keep the other stuff clean – and don’t let the dust settle.

Dealing with Lock Down Uncertainty

Uncertainty is one of the less fortunate circumstances we can find ourselves in. Not knowing what will happen next, how the next couple of months or weeks will look like or when this new state of lock down will end causes anxiety, irritation and confusion for most of us. Even for those of us that have never been planners before. For those who are lucky not to suffer from the virus have found themselves suffering from our own thoughts. This virus has hit everyone at home, quite literally.

Many of us have resulted to being productive, making bread or tik tok videos. Some of us are trying out various ways to be unproductive, like watching Tiger King. In both scenarios, we are trying to take our mind off the fact that we are in a situation we don’t know how it will develop or when it will end.

Which is an unknown situation for us. Humans spend so much of their time categorizing and planning. Since you are born, the next 18 years are lined out for you. Kindergarten and High school are mandatory in most countries, we don’t have a choice but to know what path is laid out ahead of us. That’s just in the big scale of things. We think ahead every day – we plan vacations, we plan birthday parties, Christmas, we write to do lists, schedule play dates and reserve dinners in restaurants. And now all of a sudden, we cannot plan as we don’t know what lays ahead of us. How will it end if it even ends? Will it get worse? What does worse even mean? What does it mean for me?

How destructive this was to everyone’s lives I am not sure we will be even able to measure once this is over. I sure can say I find it hard to grasp in words to myself. So the question remains – what can we do? Even for the more spontaneous of us, how can we learn to handle the unknown fate of our every day lives?

It’s best to focus on what you do know. State out the facts and think how can you plan within those guidelines. Ok, lock down will be for at least another month – plan activities and a life in doors for the month ahead. Only plan for that time period, it will make you feel in control and give you something to look forward to. Be as strict as you want with them, you can determine the exact day and time for an activity (like Taco Tuesday nights) or leave some room to be flexible in case you don’t feel like those activities. The activities can also just be small things like – red wine on Friday or coffee at 2pm. Minor things that will make you feel in control and give you some structure.

You do you and comment your tricks to deal with uncertainty below!

 

Authoring Your Authenticity

A minor revelation about myself occurred to me the other day which struck me a little by surprise. As it seems, I have a rather hard time with people being inauthentic. I tend to consider them toxic or just not interesting. Most of my close friends, or even simply people I enjoy running into and talking to are all authentic people. I surround myself with the courageous few – the people that decide to live life according to their own terms and standards. Outside of the cookie cutter one might say. To bore you with me figuring out why I lay so much high value on authenticity, I’d rather discuss why its so hard for some people to be authentic.

What does it mean to be authentic?

Googling the term, a loaded quote pops up by Bene Brown:

“To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.”— Brené Brown

This quote does not speak to me. If that would be the quote for authentic I wouldn’t know a single person out there who is. That is a high standard to have towards any person. I know no one who fully accepts their imperfections, vulnerability and thinks they deserve to be loved and accepted for who they are. Not a single soul. And if you are that person do call me up and tell me how you did it. I believe that takes great reflection, years of disengagement with your past and engagement with your current self. While most of us are just trying to have a job and get by figuring out what we want for dinner. No, I am going to be very simple here and use the dictionary term:
a: worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact

b: not false or imitation : real, actual
c: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
To me, authentic people are just people who know they might be judged for being a certain way, but are comfortable with that. They would rather be true to themselves, their values in life than to imitate or listen to standards. They are true to who they are to the extent that their personality is almost a fact. You don’t have to doubt what they say or how they will react. As certain as 1+1=2, these people will be who they are no matter the situation. And I love that the dictionary adds “Worthy of acceptance or belief”. I often see authentic people be pushed away or judged because its hard for people to accept the fact that you can be yourself and be loved for it.

Why is it hard for people to be authentic or to applaud authentic people?

Humans are social animals. We need each other in order to survive – if we want to or not. We are herd animals or packs. Which ever definition you prefer. Other humans offer us safety and assurance. So belonging to that pact comes with certain rules and values. being shunned from that pack means the lessening of security. Back in the stoneage this meant hunting and gathering on your own. These days, its a little more complex but the feeling is the same. There are many studies about loneliness and how it increases stress in the body. Because we humans just really don’t deal well with being “out there on our own”. And being authentic often means saying no to the standards society has put in place.
Other reasons might be because the society or environment we live in doesn’t offer us the possibility to find out what makes us authentic. Some people just know they are unhappy, but are not given the tools or the chance to be who they are. Some people are just not exposed to ideas that life could be different. I remember growing up there were never any funny or intelligent women on TV and I felt I was wrong to want to be funny or educated. Thankfully things have changed but also the internet has happened, which allows me to find ideas, people and theories that inspire me to find out how I feel and what I think.
There is also another catch to that. Sometimes we don’t want to know how we feel and what we think because it might not be what we expect or want ourselves to be. It might make you feel disappointed and might change the way you see yourself the world and in relation to others. This can be painful and often is the reason we avoid a lot of truths about ourselves.

How can I become authentic?

Let got of any beliefs of who you think you should be. The disconnect between who you think you should be and who you really are will destroy you and cause you great unhappiness. So what if you are not good at math? If you are bad at writing meeting minutes? If you are clumsy or hate running? What benefit are you bringing to yourself or society by bringing yourself down. Truly, honestly ask yourself: So what?
Listen to you stomach/gut/heart. Whatever it is that tells you – this doesn’t feel right or this makes me uncomfortable. They are the first sign that something isn’t right. You don’t have to tell anyone you have them and you shouldn’t judge them. These feelings you put there to protect yourself – you just may not remember why. And that’s ok. Just trust it is you looking out for yourself.
Remain curious and explore new ideas, different lives and things that fascinate you. Rather than turning to social media, I would focus on blogs, shows and books. They will give you more depth than a photoshoped picture.
(Get a life coach called Nika! 😉

Why should I be authentic?

Because it will make you happier. And life is too short not to be happy. You are the only person who has and will be by your side every moment of your life, you might as well spend it with someone that is true to you.

If It Can Be Broke, Then It Can Be Fixed

The other day I was listening to a podcast called “Dear Sugar“. The podcast was on the topic of “Moving on” and how hard it is to do so sometimes, being it moving on from a relationship, or something you did in your past you regret. We have a hard time letting go of somethings and reasons for that can be very different, depending on the time it happened in your life and the circumstances. There’s a lot of different aspects here I would love to tap into (regret, forgiveness, grief) but I need some ideas for future posts. One thing in the episode stuck with me, namely a quote one of the guest speakers mentioned a quote I had never heard before:

The person who broke you can’t be the one to fix you

It stuck with me because it seems like such sound advise. And yet at the same time, so illogical. We often think, if the person that for example left us would just come back, we would be fixed. Or if we receive the acknowledgement we think we deserve, that we will feel the comfort we needed. I often hear from my girlfriends “I hope one day he realizes just how good he had it”. Or “I just need him to apologize but he doesn’t get it”. All those things might feel nice and give us some momentary satisfaction if we do end up getting them, but that for one, won’t undo the hurt and two, in most cases will never happen. Its a beautiful gesture that would help you for a short time, but cannot undo the pain that has been caused.

So who can fix us if its not the person that caused it? The big mistake here I see in a lot of people around me is the expectation for someone else to undo the pain caused by others. We expect a partner to undo all the pain caused by failures of previous relationships. We expect our children love us enough to undo the love we didn’t get from parents. The thing is, no one can do that. And how unfair of you to expect them to do so. It is not anyone’s job to fix you, because frankly they can’t and you know they can’t. The only person who can fix you is yourself. No one knows what will help you heal, only you do and only you can give it to yourself.

Is it fair that we have to do all the work after someone else did all the damage? No. It is not. But you do have to ask yourself why you let this person in your life in the first place. Not with any judgement. Its usually due to some unhealed pain we let ourselves be hurt again. Be kind to yourself and know that you can do this. Because if you continue to live life without trying to heal, you will invite more pain into your life and probably to those around you too.

Feel free to reach out to me to start your healing journey.

Note: Title comes from a Bloc Party Song called The Pioneers

The Fruits of Being Unproductive

When Lock down looks like Procrastination

Lock Down is a new concept for everyone. Never has this generation or the last been forced to stay home and live life with so many restrictions. A lot of us feel a little lost. The usual day to day things we were used to have now gone. Even things we hate and have learned to adapt to such as commuting, taking out the rubbish or going to the dentist all disappear and we even find ourselves missing them. Its a confusing time and no one has been through it before that we can turn to for guidance or to hear some comfortable words such as “It gets better” or “It gets easier”. No one knows. There is no data, no reference points and no feeling of when this will end.

Many of us turn to blogs or newspapers to read about how we can handle this situation. I wrote a blog two weeks ago about how to deal with anxiety, inspired by all the questions I was receiving from the people around me. Many of us are not just confused with how to handle this time but what to do with all our time as well.  A lot of articles circulating these days are about how to take online classes, watch yoga videos, start meditating or books and movies people recommend. We are not used to having so much time. Our lives with things – candy crush, books, instagram, facebook, online shopping, finger food, movies – we are the number one generation of killing time. Before the lock down, ask yourself when was the last time you were bored?

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So now we are in this weird situation and there is so much you can do. You could work longer hours, you could do a push up challenge, finally learn Spanish or master a hand stand – or you could, and this is truly daring, just do nothing. You could just learn to be. Its a habit we have unlearned. No generation in the history of human kind, no animal in nature is as preoccupied with things as we are. We could spend a long time discussing why that is (comment on this post to get started!), but in general its a thing we have unlearned. And what a habit to have. Can you imagine just sitting at the doctors office and looking into space? Not being restless, looking for something to kill the time but just to sit? What an amazing superpower that would be. I go for a run and am terrified my phone might run out of batteries because god forbid I spend a minute with my thoughts.

We focus on delivery in our society. On making the deadline, getting good grades, having a certain amount of likes on facebook or instagram followers. Achievements are in the forefront and whoever you are reading this – I am sure you have delivered a fair share of those. You probably graduated primary school, you must have had a job once in your lifetime and if not, you have focused on getting healthy. Everyone has had at least one deliverable to date. A deliverable that did not focus on recharging your batteries. So if there is a time you can tell yourself to take a step back from giving or trying, then this is it. I’m not saying give up on life or don’t bother living. I am saying, if you want to sleep all day and it makes you feel good do. If you want to play candy crush or watch TV before starting work just do. If you want to stop working out because you used to go the gym all the time but now just doesn’t feel right, then do. This is a new strange environment and it will take some time for you to get used to. There is no one right way to approach this, so stop putting pressure on yourself. You can always learn Spanish back when Lock Down ends, you don’t have to have things figured out right now. Your definition or your best life will need adapting during these times. Just as you have had to accept this Lock Down, learn to accept that you might not know what you want to do and you might just want to do nothing. And accept that that is fine.

5 Tips Against COVID-19 Induced Anxiety

When working from home feels like confinement

Its not an easy time – to say the least. People have been struggling with the uncertainty of when the virus will stop spreading and when life can go on to is regular routine. Some of us have also lost the stability of an employment and rest of us, who remain fortunate enough to have a job, are trying to figure out how to work from home in a balanced manner.

Even as an introvert, who enjoys comfy pants, a moderate amount of human interaction and who views their bed is my primary source of happiness, there is still some frustration in me that I feel is misplaced. I don’t know where its coming from, but I know its related to this new situation and don’t know what to do about it (but meditate!). I have notice quite a spike of anxiety rise in many people reaching out to me. Worry and panic are normal effects of uncertainty. How long will this last? What does it mean if this gets worse? Do I also have to fear unemployment? Its hard to handle these thoughts even in normal times, not when every communication channel is blasting news about a (in some cases) life threatening virus. Not to be anxious right now is really, really hard and takes some proactive work. Here are some tips that might help:

  1. Distract distract distract!

    The worst thing about anxiety is that it tends to start a spiral. One anxious thought usually awakens another. “What if this gets worse?” – “What if people I know get sick?” – “What if I get sick?”
    Anxious thoughts bread one another. It often helps just to force yourself to have another thought. For example, ask yourself a math question. Not a difficult one but one you could solve – yet not an easy one. Something like 23 x 50. It will help you snap out of it. If numbers cause you more anxiety, start thinking about what you had for lunch each day in the previous week.

  2. Reach out

    Call a friend. Friends are a great distraction. It will remind you that you are not alone, that people are out there that are here for you. If you can’t reach your friend, just leave them a message or a video. Sometimes people are busy, so they can’t be reached. It doesn’t mean they are not here for you and that they do not care. People have different levels need for connection and each one is ok. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out. If you fear of becoming too much for your friends – you can also reach out by commenting on people’s instagram posts. There are many public accounts, many that focus on mental health (like mine! @nikafiguringitout – feel free to reach out anytime!) – comment, share, like. Social media is not all evil, it can help you realize a lot of people are going through the same thing as you.

  3. Move

    It really sucks not being able to go out – but that doesn’t mean you have to stop moving! There are so many great Yoga lessons that are for free online, or gym sessions. Even just 15min of moderate movement and just doing what you can will make you feel better (its all in the hormones baby). All you need is yourself and your phone. Its the best time to get fit and make you feel like you are in control. You can limit how long, how often and what activities. Its all up to you and not to the virus. Own it.

    woman wearing eyeglasses in grayscale photography
    Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com
  4. Control it

    Do what you need to feel you are in control. Control your schedule – write it out. Be as specific as you want to. It can be by hour, by half hour, or just in morning and afternoon slot. Write it down and try sticking to it. If that causes more anxiety, adjust it. Its your schedule you make it work for you.
    Control your emotions – label your emotion with one word and write it down. This creates some distance between you and the emotion. Its a trick we use in meditation to realize you are not your emotions. They are something that happens to you and not who you are.

  5. Flip it!

    This is an easy trick. Each thought you have, rephrase it. Pick one of the techniques below that work for you. They create some distance between you and the feeling and help you perceive it from a objective stand point. Situations are easier to deal with when you are dealing with them from a distance than when you are in them. Here are some tricks:Every time you generalize, be a devils advocate. This will make you bring logic into the situation and force another perspective in your mind.
    Examples:
    “The world will end” – “Will it really end? Are you sure?”.
    “I will get the virus” – “Why you specifically?”

    Rephrase any sentence that starts with I into a way that I no longer exists! This will automatically move your focus on yourself and help you take a step back.
    Examples:
    “I feel so anxious about this virus” – “The virus causes anxiety”
    “I can’t handle this anymore” – “Its hard to handle”

It will not be easy in the next couple of weeks. Knowing that and accepting that is the first step. Then dealing with it is another beast to tackle. Give yourself time to adjust and have some compassion with yourself. There are many ways to stay safe and to take care of yourself, give yourself time to find out which one works for you.

 

Note: Please note I am not a mental health specialist. This is not for people diagnosed with clinical anxiety, please seek professional help if you feel anxiety is getting too overwhelming.

 

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