Mind | Keeping anxiety at bay and not loosing your sense of self.
Right now we are yet again , navigating a new normal, this year has been one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced collectively and just when we think we are getting used to one normal , things change and we are yet again having to deal with uncertainty.
I recently listened to a Deliciously Ella podcast with Psychotherapist Anna Martha, talking about how we can take care of ourselves during times of uncertainty and I thought this was for sure something I needed to share.
When we slow down (forced or otherwise) we may find feelings that we haven't had to deal with come to the forefront, being busy can often be a coping mechanism keeping ourselves so focused on other things that we can overlook the things that will cause us pain, stress or anxiety.
I feel we aren't equipped to deal with boredom anymore, and this is for sure a personal experience. If I have time, when I have nothing to do my brain automatically begins to find things to fill my time, a bit of panic sets in as I tell myself I “should” be doing something. It can often feel like Who am I if I am not busy for the whole day and being productive ? What's my identify without the things that I do?
We are often defined by our careers or business , being a parent of the things we fill our lives with and when these things are taken away we are left not knowing who we are or how to function in this new world , all whilst dealing with this overwhelm of new feelings (or old ones we just haven't dealt with)
There are a few things Anna says we can do when we are feeling like we have lost our identity , or what makes us feel like us .
- Giving yourself permission to be still - It's ok i promise. From being busy morning till night to a slower place can feel like a shock, reminding yourself it's ok to slow down.
- Remember you are not worth any less now that we can’t do those things. Your still you, those things although they felt like they defined you didn't make who you fundamentally are,find it as a positive to find our who you are when its not attached to something else.
- Be kind to yourself , what would you say to someone in your position?
- Stop the comparison , because you're not ill , you're not struggling in the same way as others , you aren't on the front line so you have no”right:” to be finding this hard. Whilst we are not taking away from people in those tough positions , this doesn't mean that you can't be finding it hard , stop playing down your feelings.
- Appreciation. Appreciate the things that wouldn't normally happen outside of this time.
Something else that can be a real trigger in these times is lack of control , We suddenly don't have control in our lives , we can't at times even decide what we want to eat with restrictions on shops popping out to grab ingredients is sometimes near possible, grabbing a cuppa with your best friend when they are having a tough time or treating yourself to some retail therapy.
Control gives us a sense of safety and guess what , Anxiety sits right in that place of lack of control. Team this lack of control,with lack of coping mechanisms such as work , family , hobbies and it really can be so easy to lose our sense of self and let ourselves be consumed.
Anxiety is always ahead of the game , sitting in the future with all the things that can go wrong, so how do we take control of the lack of control and not let anxiety overwhelm us with future fear.
-Compassion for yourself
Look back at things we have overcome , we have faced challenges , we have faced hardships and we have overcome them . We are a lot stronger than we think we are. Tell yourself you will deal with “what if’s” if the “IF” happens things before, feeling like you have to deal with things right now takes away from peace. Lets just put one foot in front of each other.
It might feel very important to be informed but at the same time hearing it every 20 minutes is not that helpful. Limit to watching one update a day, and feel free to block or unfollow social media channels that have you stressing or worrying.
Finding things in your present to ground you such as meditation or journaling. These are great tools not only for relaxing , and calming the mind but also to push us to be in the now .
Make note of the following:
5 things you see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 things you can taste
These work great to help stop us spiralling into forward thinking and panic , flight or fight mode kicks in when we do this and mantras are great at re-focusing our thoughts. Try these:
“Now is ok and now is what I have”
“The only thing that is real is now”
-Give your mind respite
Find something to do that gives your brain a break from it’s thoughts , this can be anything that engages your brain and requires focus such as:
- Word searches
Ask yourself, am I asking too much of myself ? i am a sucker for a “should”
Should pull at our attention and focus on things that we feel we need to be doing rather than engaging in things that we actually need , like rest.
Some may find gratitude difficult right now, but this is not about devaluing what is going on, but about finding the small joys even if we feel like we have to look a little harder.
We may not have the big things , which means amidst all the fear and confusion we are forced to find joy in the small and simple things.
- Go for a walk nature connection (You can read more on the benefits of nature to connection here)
- Appreciate the things that wouldn't normally happen outside of this time.
We are not sure we can remember what normal really feels like any more, whether we will ever have the old normal return , let's be honest we can't really be sure about anything right now, but what we can do is take steps to take care of ourselves during all this uncertainty .