Searching for certainty - dealing with anxiety while stuck at home
So many of us are struggling with anxiety. For those of us with persistent anxiety, daily functions can be an obstacle. But today's hurdles are much, much bigger. With recent events, even those of us with the most stable temperaments have trouble feeling at ease.
Anxiety can be productive- it's not always bad. It can help you accomplish tasks and keep you safe when you find yourself in a compromising position. It can also encourage behaviors that promote health and well-being (WASH THOSE HANDS, PLEASE!) Yet when anxiety becomes worry, it is no longer valuable.
It isn't so much what is going to happen today (for most people, it will be more of the same). What we're wondering is "What will tomorrow look like?"
Human beings are creatures of habit and routine. Although we like to shake things up a bit here and there, we don't like it when the whole shaker gets turned upside down.
So what to do? Panic? Freak OUT? BUY ALL THE TP????
Probably not. The focus should be on managing the anxiety in an appropriate way. We all prefer certainty, but right now, the only thing that is certain is .... (drum-roll please).... UNCERTAINTY! So we have to what we can to get comfortable with it.
Just breathe. Take a little time to turn off the panic button. Do a little meditation, check in to see where the tension is in your body.
Focus on the present. Can I control what's bothering me? If so, great! Do something about it. Is your concern out of your control? Let it go and refocus on something you CAN control. Learn to accept the uncertainty and focus on the here and now.
Just move! Keep yourself active both physically and mentally, which can be a positive distraction and increase serotonin, the happy mood booster!
Conflict in confined quarters
Sometimes, normal people get placed in abnormal situations. Having the whole family working from home and going to school online (you know, like a pandemic) probably counts. Most of us generally love being around each other and sharing time together but work, school and other responsibilities get in the way.
Well guess what? Now you get to spend all the time in the world with the ones you love! Hooray!!! Right... Oh, but not by choice? Maybe I have to rethink this...
The contact you once craved can now be a source of stress. That cute little habit that you adored now makes you want to scream. So how to keep your friendships/romantic relationships/family flowing when all you want is some space? Read the tips below!
Carve out a specific space to do work. This can be for students at home now taking online classes or anyone working from home (that folding table is now the least comfortable desk you've ever worked at). This will create a clear boundary between work and relaxing activities.
Make the space as comfortable as you can - you're going to be spending a lot of time there. Also limiting visual distractions enhances productivity.
Take some alone time. This is tough in a small space, but you can go into another room for a few minutes, put on some headphones to zone out to your favorite music, read a book or watch TV. If it's safe/advisable, go out for a socially distant walk. As much as we need interconnectedness, we need solitary time too.
Engage in open communication. Don't pick on every single thing that annoys you (there will be many!) but do not allow frustrations to build up to a point where it bubbles up uncontrollably. Express your concerns in a compassionate, empathetic way.
Have an agreed upon strategy to allow for some cooling down time if someone does get overwhelmed or frustrated. Come back to the situation later rather than allowing it to continuously escalate. Often times we need to allow our emotions to settle before we can have a constructive conversation.
Try to be understanding and see things from the other person's perspective. You are probably not the only person who is irritable or uncomfortable at times (even though it may feel like it!) Recognizing that we're all in this together will help us get through this together.
Conflict is not always negative. Use this time to learn more about each other and to grow and strengthen relationships. If you're struggling, we can help facilitate effective communication - we have experts in couples counseling and stress management. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
Right now, everyone wants to know what they can do to keep themselves safe physically and emotionally. Almost every client I see shares this concern. In this moment in time, we are both more alone and more together than ever before. Social distancing, quarantine, and the loss of jobs is probably impacting you or at least one person you know/care about.
Humans are social beings that thrive on interpersonal connections. I have had countless clients focus our recent sessions on what they should do to keep their spirits high and manage the stress of limited social interaction. Here are some tips to manage the COVID crisis:
1. Eating well
3. Limit Screen Time
5. Mindfulness and meditation
6. Find new hobbies or activities
7. Stay Social
I know that these times are stressful but taking some small steps to take care of your mental well-being can go a long way. Stay safe!