Like many Americans, late in the night and early in the morning the glow of a smartphone lights up my face. Technology has made a tap on a screen the possibility of a continual visual portal for coronavirus and economic concerns. With the government discussing social distancing and economic hardship, of course this is anxiety provoking and, well, just plain overwhelming. Anxiety is not a bad thing; at low levels it can help us perform. However, when it is untamed and let off the leash, it can affect our ability to function. So what are some different ways we can respond and best manage our anxiety during these difficult times? Maybe it starts with how we think and the information we consume.
Like a stereotypical therapist would say, it is important we continually attempt to accept this present moment. Accepting that at this time lifestyles are changed and COVID-19 requires new safety precautions. Accepting can begin the process of not being frozen. I mean, of course we are anxious; we have never been here before. It is not wrong or bad if we are anxious; our feelings are real and they are ok to have.
Adapt and look for the Wins
My guess is if you live in Michigan, your days just look different. Anxiety can keep us from being here and present. Thoughts of attempting to control the situation buzz in our heads. Maybe we need to change these anxious thoughts to “How do I adapt and look for the wins?” Wins are the things that bring you joy. The beautiful part is, I do not know what your wins are or what bring you joy. Maybe it is a walk outside, cooking a good meal or playing with your child. Many are working from home and a win may be eating a big breakfast with your family before you start the day.
We are now also presented with some opportunities we have not had before. This practice is called mindfulness: being fully engaged in the present moment and not focusing on the past or imagining the future. I use the word practice because we are never perfect at being present and mindful. It can be helpful to find what you love and begin to practice being mindful with that experience. What would it be like to turn off your phone and fully engage? Maybe you have an increased availability to go for a walk with your spouse? Dusting off an instrument that you have longed to play? Being mindful gives your mind a break as you fully engage with an experience that is here.
What are you hearing?
Technology is a tool that can help us get information during this time. When I was younger, my father and grandfather would both say, “You do not have to tighten the bolts so tight; it can break and cause more trouble than what we are here fixing.” Are you over-tightening with the media tools? Podcast, news, and social media are tools that can be over tightened. Continual exposure to traumatic situations can leave our central nervous systems a little keyed-up and edgy. It may be helpful to limit and set up certain times of the day to engage with news and media outlets.
10 Helpful Mindfulness Ideas
- If you work from home start a new family ritual, game night, dinner party or breakfast.
- Set up cardio exercise goals even if it is a walk two times a day.
- Yoga is the king of mindfulness and can be done through YouTube.
- Get lost in a house project that you have been putting off.
- Bake or cook a new creation or teach a family member something old.
- Play a game with others on the internet through Zoom or FaceTime.
- Maybe hand-write a letter to a loved one.
- It is getting that time to start planning your garden.
- Pick up an instrument.
- Focus on acts of service to loved ones you live with as we are all in this together.
It is my hope that you find these practices helpful to begin getting unstuck and start adapting as we navigate this difficult time.