MANAGING OUR BEST IN A “SHUT DOWN” WORLD
In the midst of countless suggestions for how to cope as we struggle to successfully make it through this enormously stressful time, do your best to keep it simple…. try to just remember to stay safe and to do basics.
You WILL be stressed. So first, try to remember that stress is normal — so the key is to watch for excessive stress — when your thoughts are things like “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never survive” or “this is killing me.” Back up and try simple actions to reduce the intensity of what you’re thinking and feeling….
- Try this breathing exercise. Inhale to the count of 4; hold your breath to the count of 7; and exhale very slowly to the count of 8. Then repeat the process. That’s typically enough to quiet stressful physical, emotional symptoms; however, we are in extreme and totally unfamiliar situations, so it’s possible that repeating the exercise will be necessary to calm your stress. Most people can feel the calming impact of this exercise.
- Write about your feelings of anxiety and depression. Make lists of what you are thinking, feeling, telling yourself, worrying — perhaps obsessing about. It’s “metabolizing” feelings to get the thoughts OUT of your head and on paper. If it feels good, tear the lists into tiny pieces.
- Shift gears and make a list of all the things you feel grateful for. If that feels like a “stretch” when you’re under so much stress, find the most simple thing you can think of to give your thoughts of gratitude a jump start — for example, “my coffee isn’t cold!” Then push yourself as much as you can to list a minimum of 5 things…and if you can keep going, that’s going to help your stress level.
- If the writing helps at all, write more. Any negative feelings you can get out on paper truly helps “chew them up.”
- MOVE. A good 30 minute walk is an amazing stress reducer. If you already exercise regularly, stick to your usual routine and even add to it on the more challenging days.
- Meditate. If you don’t know how, there are multiple apps that give basic instructions. AND for instruction on how to do a ONE MINUTE MEDITATION, go to my website. The point is to give yourself some time to quiet your mind at least a little. It’s a “brain break.”
- Give yourself time to “do nothing” except read, watch an old favorite movie — maybe even take some time to daydream! Contact a friend or relative you care deeply for and get in touch and let them know you’re thinking of them.
- TRY to eat healthy food and go extremely easy on too much sugar, or too much coffee and alcohol.
If you can do these things, I believe managing being under the same roof with all your family can gradually begin to feel more manageable.
I know you’re reading far too much on WHAT TO DO…. but again the most basic suggestions, hard as they sound and feel work best. TRY to talk about what’s working well AND not working with everyone at home. Create a schedule. AND plan regular family meetings to discuss how things are going.
AND if you live alone, review with YOURSELF what’s working. Establish your routine. Make lists to keep yourself on track. And reach out to talk to friends, family, colleagues.
And for everyone, if you need to talk to a therapist, counselor, minister, physician, please do it. Most professionals are expecting to do what they can to help in times of crisis. My website has dozens of blogs on emotional well being and coping techniques. … even a few videos. And instructions for contacting me if you need to reach out. Know that hesitating to email or call is normal. It does mean that you might have to nudge yourself … so do it if you know you need to. www.drlindalmoore.com