Can we all just collectively take a moment to take a deep BREATH and mouth to ourselves “WHAT THE HECK!”
OK, I really needed to do that! I feel better now.
Let me just start out by saying that whatever you are feeling right now, it’s NORMAL!
How can I say that with such confidence if I don’t even know any of you personally? Well, because what you feel is what you feel and depending on your unique situation, we are all feeling different emotions at different times and going in and out of them depending on where we are. Today, you might be feeling pretty good about this whole quarantine situation, and tomorrow might be different.
In grad school one phrase they told us over and over was “Everything makes sense in context!”, meaning that based on your lived experiences, your understanding of things, what you were taught throughout your life, and what you were modeled, is going to inform your thoughts and emotions and how you respond (behaviors) to a given event.
Let’s give this some context — we are living a global event, with many uncertainties and where each day brings a new mandate by the government or a new statistic about loss and recoveries. This is new territory for us all. We were not taught how to face a pandemic, but we were taught how to respond to fear, anger, lack of safety and uncertainty.
If you were taught to hide or ignore your uncomfortable emotions, you are probably doing your very best to stay busy, avoid or even numb them right now. “This is NO TIME TO PANIC!” you might say to yourself, so you do what you know to do; keep those emotions hidden as best you can and at bay, as to not let them take over and possibly make matters even worse.
I totally get it!
I have been doing a bit of all that myself, keeping busy, making the best of things, sharing funny COVID-19 memes on social media and even having virtual meetups with family and friends. My point for this blog is not to have you stop doing all these things, which I believe are crucial to keeping us grounded right now, what I am inviting you to consider to allow yourself to acknowledge and sit with the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty in a way that is safe.
We need to hold space for those feelings as well as to not have them creep up on us and show up as anger, panic, depression, or isolation.
Here is how we can do that:
Validate that the fear/anxiety is normal and justified. It is not irrational to fear for your job, your family’s safety, and your health. It makes sense in context, remember! What you’re feeling is normal. No need to judge yourself for feeling this way. Your emotions are messengers that communicate back and forth with you. If you try to push it down or ignore, them they have no clear path or message from you about what to do next.
Identify what is happening, what is bringing up these emotions, and validate those as well. For those who struggle with anxiety, we often tell them to consider the probability of the fear coming true. This is not a make-believe virus, this is real and our body is sending us messages through our emotions to help us stay safe. Remind yourself that even though this is a REAL SITUATION, you are taking the necessary precautions to stay safe. You can follow the recommendations and mandates that are meant to protect you. You are doing the best you can at this moment.
Remember we are in this together. Things seem scarier when we feel that we are alone. This is actually one time where we can be certain that we are collectively experiencing something that is impacting us all. Reach out to family, neighbors and friends who are supportive, and talk about what your feeling or about anything you would like. Human connection is vital always, but especially NOW.
Take it day by day, minute by minute. Fear and anxiety love to get ahead of us and think of the worst-case scenarios. Thank your anxiety for always looking out for you but try to reel it back in a bit! Today if you have health, today you have your family and friends doing well, then you are OK! in this present moment. This is not about just “thinking positively,” we are in complete awareness of the situation we are living AND we also trust in our abilities to confront any adversity that will come. Yes, we are vulnerable beings AND we are also resilient.
We are in this together!
If you or anyone you know is needs further guidance to help navigate these difficult times, needs someone to process and help you learn how to hold space for these emotions that are justifiable coming up for you at this time, reach out to a mental health professional near you.
A licensed therapist in your state can provide services via TELEHEALTH platforms.
Myself, and the entire CMC Therapy team are currently providing virtual therapy on secure, HIPAA compliant communication for our clients.
Catalina Fortich, MS, LMFT
For more relevant content on how to cope with life, follow me @catgetscurious