I want to talk to any of you who are feeling out of sorts, and are feeling unmotivated with symptoms of malaise during this pandemic. Not only have the normal rhythms and routines inside a week and a weekend dissolved, but we are amidst a pandemic. The likes of which we have never experienced in this lifetime.
And, I’ve been talking to quite a few people lately who even though they haven’t been directly impacted (meaning they don’t have the virus themselves nor have they lost their job), they still are feeling very much not OK and very much out of sorts. If that fits your experience, then I want to suggest the following:
1. Practice Emotional Housekeeping
Now is the time to do some real good emotional housekeeping. I know for some of you that idea is every bit as sexy as getting a cavity filled without anesthesia, but hear me out on this. Right now, our society is going through an acute stress disorder. That is what we call it when there is a trauma playing out– something terrible that threatens lives and livelihoods. And you are powerless to stop it, and all you can do is bear witness to it and try to stay out of the fray.
Now, whether or not you conceptualize the coronavirus in these terms, we are all experiencing this. We are all witnessing the ways in which other people are struggling for their health, struggling for their economic viability, and struggling in numerous ways. And we do ourselves a real disservice when we try to think that we are immune to the sadness, to the losses, and to the fear that’s going on out there.
2. Tend to Your Stress Bucket
So, after the pandemic has left town, I really believe there will be a significant spike in depression for all of those people who have felt a cumulative toll. And one of the things that you can be doing right now to try to prevent feeling depressed afterwards is start taking time to simply feel your feelings.
Think of your COVID-19 stress and news-consumption as all going into one bucket. You and I both know that new stuff is being heaped into that bucket all the time. Your job is to attend to the bucket frequently enough so that it doesn’t overflow. So you need to spend some time processing some of the upsetting things you’ve heard or read.
Feel some of the feelings that you have. Talk to trusted friends about what’s going on. Journal. Go for a quiet, introspective walk. These are all ways you can tend to your own emotions. You can ask yourself “What’s the most upsetting thing I heard this week?”, and give yourself a second in time to acknowledge it and have emotions around it. You can also ask yourself “Who are the people that I am heartbroken for in this moment?”. Whether they are people you know personally or stories of groups of individuals that you know are struggling societally, it’s important to tend to your bucket.
3. Decrease Your News Consumption
Finally, I will suggest that now is an incredible time to pull way back on your news consumption. Your electronic devices can deliver far more news and headlines than your emotional, social, and psychological system of being can ever process. And that’s part of why the bucket is overflowing. So if you haven’t tried my strategy yet, I would recommend only checking the news every third day. Grab a handful of articles, and get in and get out! Then take the next 48 hours to be present to your own life, to your own health, and to the darling people stuck in your home with you. Be present when you’re not on the news.
All of Flourish’s services are now being offered via online counseling and online therapy. You can call us at 303-455-3767 x. 5, or fill out our contact form to get in touch!