I recently read about an emotional trend; the “pandemic meltdown”.
Basically, it’s those moments when you suddenly “lose it” over something that you could have easily handled in the past; pre-Covid. This reaction is the understandable, but disconcerting bi-product of the layers of stress and potentially dangerous levels of anxiety we are all experiencing these days.
Until this last month, I was managing well. I was feeling strong and positive. I was successfully and intentionally maneuvering personal, work, pandemic and world event related stresses; staying optimistic about the future.
I thought that I was keeping it all together — for myself and for those around me.
But, all it took was a few events this past week to send me into a a bit of a tailspin and a very different frame of mind: A 10 hour drive to help my family come up with a new plan for my 84 year-old mother’s care after two recent falls, coupled with a text from my daughter about a potential Covid exposure, no availability in her University’s quarantine dorm. These were the incremental stressors — the “final straws” that brought on my unexpected “pandemic meltdown” moment.
I ended up with a visit to the ER with concerning heart palpitations. The 7 hour experience affirmed, as I suspected, that it was stress and anxiety at play. The layers and layers of stress had accumulated, yet I had internalized and ignored it by working long hours and staying very busy.
But, now, my body was sending me a clear message.
I underwent a series of tests, I resolved to make some changes.
I rededicated myself to the daily practices that I had started to skip or over the last few months. I put them front and center to focus my intentions to stay calm, grounded and healthy.
Here are a few ways that I counter anxiety’s impact. I hope that these practices will help you too.:
– Don’t skip healthy daily routines: Take care of myself through morning and bedtime routines habits including meditation, gratitudes, setting intentions and a positive mindset and of course prioritizing sleep, healthy food and exercise.
– Observe but then release negative thoughts: Note, not ignore, negative thoughts (fear, worry, sadness), but then release them when they float into my head. Imagine they are balloons that I let go of and watch fly away.
– Reserve thinking ahead for the good things to come. Stop myself when worries and fear about bad things that could happen start to take-over my thoughts.
– Practice gratitude all day long. Recognize life’s simple, yet beautiful miracles each morning when I wake, throughout out the day and in my nightly gratitude practice. Send out messages of gratitude to people that I love and am touched by — a simple text, a call or a letter bring me as much joy as the recipient.
– Embrace resilience: Appreciate and build my resilience muscle.
– Avoid Toxic Positivity: Remind myself that burying issues can be toxic and that it’s ok to not feel positive all the time (this is a hard one for me!)
– Don’t ignore emotional pain: Realize that it’s ok to not feel ok. The time we are living in is extraordinarily painful; full of so much loss and uncertainty. Sometimes feeling our pain can teach us much more than ignoring it.
– Moments of “flow”: Reserve some time each day to do things that bring me the deepest joy — and put me in a state of “flow”.
– Remember that I am the master of my thoughts: I am in control of how I experience this time; and am in control of how I think, respond and act in the face of stress, challenging events and uncertainty.
– Stay connected to others, myself and nature. Keep my awareness in the present moment, seek out daily connection to friends and loved ones, and spend precious time in nature…oh, the amazing power of connection!
– Optimistic vision for the future – see this as a time for change and reinvention: Hold onto the belief that all of the destruction that has been taking place this year is making room for change; that this is time for re-ordering and reinvention in every part of my life.
“Someone once gave me a boxful of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” -Mary Oliver
#weeklyprompt #connection #pandemic #gratitude #optimism #resilience