5 Tools to Survive the Emotional Rollercoaster this Pandemic is Taking Us on
Oh man, I can tell you this pandemic is getting me good. The first two weeks of sheltering in place I was optimistic, feeling well and even grateful for having to slow down.
I found myself contemplating all the good that would come out of this crisis. How we humans will emerge stronger, more creative and inventive through this experience. How we would learn to not take everything for granted and become more collaborative. And I am still hoping for all this to be true once we’re going to venture out into our “new normal”.
But, my thoughts and feelings have been on a crazy rollercoaster for the last few weeks.
Now, I like to think of myself as a very resilient person. Over the course of my life, I have had to overcome a lot of obstacles and pick myself up off the floor. I have been practicing Yoga for over a decade now, meditation for a few years and using other resilience tools.
But this time it is different. Why? Mainly because of the sheer dimensions of this crisis. It is a global pandemic. No-one can escape. Uncertainty is soaring high like an eagle in the sky (humming Iron Maiden’s “Flight of Ikarus”, ;) ).
Some days, I don’t feel like getting out of bed early anymore. I’m glad I have my family who needs me and so I do not have any excuse to not get up. Even the days that I start out feeling good and under control, towards the end of the day sometimes I crumble.
All this to say I’m here with you. I understand how you are feeling and you are not alone. Writing this is one reason to get out of bed for me. I want to share some tools that have helped me live with my emotions. Best news, I am convinced that it is not too late to start integrating resilience strategies for you. This is why I wanted to share a few here:
Work on your Emotional Literacy
Make it a point to recall emotions you feel during the day to become more aware of them and name them. You may want to start writing down what you recall from the day before. My family started sharing 2-3 feelings we each have felt during the day - this way we are building an emotional vocabulary that goes beyond “good, happy, sad and mad” and we can show our kids that we, adults, go through difficult emotions as well. My daughter shared five yesterday. The added bonus was that we got to resolve some problems along the way by asking when and why they felt like this.
Introduce a pause before you react
Once you’ve heightened your emotional awareness, start working on inviting a pause. You’ve probably heard them all:Taking a deep breath; Counting to 10 before you react,...When absolutely triggered, I like to remove myself from the situation saying out loud “Right now I’m too upset, I’ll go to my room to calm down and we can talk once I can think clearly again”.
Feelings are not inherently good or bad.
It is harder to “sit with difficult feelings” because they are uncomfortable, but all emotions have a valuable message. Let them wash over your body, like a wave crashing over you (maybe even knock the wind out of you for a bit), and then let go as the wave recedes into the ocean. Emotions are signals to be interpreted. Sometimes our values and beliefs bring up certain feelings in us. If we want to break free from events that trigger these emotions we have to dig deep and question if these beliefs are true.
Create the day around your values
The first step is to focus on what is within your control, so I urge you to limit your news intake to your trusted sources once a day. From the suggestions below include what works for you and let go of what doesn’t serve you:
Start journaling to process what’s going on within you. Maybe take up a meditation practice, there are a lot of great apps out there. If you can, support your local yoga studio and take classes online. Go outdoors (respecting current guidelines). Call people who you miss. Diffuse some essential oils,... Start creating a routine you’re looking forward to for your days and you will see that most days are good and some others bearable at least.
Connect with one friend a day
If you know or suspect of a friend who might feel totally underwater, reach out to them. A friend working on a suicide line once shared with me that, the mere fact of picking up that phone and listening to the person at risk of hurting themselves, prevents them from doing it. Throw them a lifeline!
To take a snapshot of how your team is doing, claim your free Emotional Climate Index (ECI) today.