The past 18 months of COVID-19 have taken a toll on our psyche, our reserves. And now, upheaval from a storm reminds us, once again, that we as humans truly are no match against the forces of mother nature.
Our strength and our optimism feel challenged; very little is in our control. As we look ahead, the obstacles can feel insurmountable. It’s hard to focus. And it’s even harder to pull together cohesive, creative thoughts that offer a semblance of clarity.
The emotions that we’re having now – overwhelmed, uncertain, waiting for the other shoe to drop – are feelings that we are all familiar with to some degree. The people of our region just happen to be experiencing them, all at once, magnified exponentially.
We’re craving a sense of peace as we face what feels like the impossible, or at least the improbable. And for many of us, one of the biggest hurdles is simply getting out of our own way.
The reality is that none of us know what lies ahead; we truly have no idea about what tomorrow may bring. So, all we can do right now is give it our all to make the world around us a better place and along the way, also support our own growth, and physical, mental and spiritual wellness.
For those of us craving some sense of normalcy and are looking to pour our energy into what we can control, here are five things to consider adding into our brain space to help us make sense of and manage our fears, doubts and uncertainties so they don’t get the best of us.
Actively express gratitude. The aftermath of crisis is filled with glimmers of hope, countless acts of kindness both small and large. Angels are all around, offering support in whatever way they can.
Take the time to let these people know that you appreciate them. And be sure that the important people in your life know that you love them. So many times we think they must know this, but we don’t fully express it. Don’t hold back; it’s something we can do right in the moment, so there’s no need to wait.
Accept our current circumstances. Embrace them even, if possible. This doesn’t mean we like the situation, or that we’re accepting this as our new normal. It simply means that we’re acknowledging that this is the state of our life, at this moment.
Pushing against what is our reality is a recipe for frustration and feelings of defeat.
And, speaking of normal, forget about what others consider “normal.” Crisis-related anxiety is completely normal, and we’re all experiencing it to some degree.
The good news is that we can find ways to counter it so we can come out on the other side of this a healthier, more positive version of ourselves.
Do our best to establish some sense of routine. Routine can help to give us a sense of at least some control and make room for what really matters.
Routine can benefit our emotional health, plus it can help us strengthen healthy habits, reduce stress and help us cope with the changing world.
As challenging as it may feel at times, aim for a daily pattern or schedule that includes self-care. This can be simple – a short walk, listening to a podcast or simply taking a few minutes to be alone while running an errand.
Also try to include an element of forward movement toward at least one goal daily, large or small. Even as small as steps may seem along the way, progress is progress.
Set boundaries, and limit exposure to news and social media. Stay informed, of course, but make sure you’re taking enough time to step away to separate and recharge your thoughts, energy and focus.
Pause for mental refreshers throughout the day. Carve out time to nourish our bodies as best possible, layer in some type of movement or reach out to a friend, especially one who’s calm and emotionally steady.
Look for the humor and positivity, whenever possible. This doesn’t mean making light of your situation. But seeking out the flashes of happiness, positivity and, yes, even humor, in the darkest moments can rejuvenate our spirit and remind us that in due time, these negative feelings and emotions will pass. But for now, we must actively seek out the good. I promise it’s there.
Start by tuning into even the smallest acts of compassion, like expressing our gratitude and love for those around us. Stepping away from 24-hour news and the social media cycle so that we intentionally fill our energy and our spirits with positivity, compassion and grace.
Continue to surround yourself with positive messaging. Follow experts on social media who are sharing stories of inspiration and positivity. Tune into the simple things that have a huge impact on your happiness. And, most important, start doing these things now.
These are just a few things we can do to ensure that we’re truly caring for ourselves and our community around us.
For more on coping with stress following a crisis, tune into my episode on maintaining a sense of control on my podcast, FUELED wellness + nutrition.
See a licensed therapist face-to-face from the comfort of your own home with Ochsner’s Anywhere Care. Learn more here.