Are you struggling during the lockdown? Everyone has had to adjust in some way to this lockdown, from working from home and home-schooling to feeling isolated and alone. Not to mention the effects of worrying about financial losses, the health of loved ones, or what the future holds.
But many people are being triggered at this time, perhaps for the first time.
Being triggered means, generally speaking, that an external event impacts you negatively, causing feelings of fear, vulnerability and anger to surface. It can lead to sleepless nights, violent nightmares, and mood swings. According to MentalHelp.net, it can also cause anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.
Now for some of us who have lived through abuse or trauma, these triggers can be literally anything, from major life events to a television commercial. And to make matters worse, sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to what triggers us.
The lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of people to be triggered. Many people who have never experienced any issues with their mental health before are struggling now. So, let’s look at a few reasons why.
Feelings of loneliness have more than doubled in the UK over the lockdown period.
It’s logical that many people will feel lonely during lockdown, especially those isolating by themselves.
Let’s talk about those people who are feeling lonely even though they are in lockdown with their loved ones.
Loneliness is something that is not just about how many people are around you. It’s also about how many people “get” you – that feeling that others understand you, you feel well supported, and you feel you belong.
When you see others around you coping with something like the lockdown with ease, while you are having negative thoughts and emotions, you can feel out of place.
Not to mention, if you’ve experienced trauma, the loneliness that ensues due to feeling like you’re the only one and no one else can relate, is overwhelming. Thus, an event like the lockdown happens, and the loneliness that creeps in acts as a trigger.
Fear of the Unknown
I can’t think of another time in my lifetime when the future has been so unknown for us as a society, never mind for individuals facing great life changes.
Fear is something ingrained into our DNA. We are literally programmed to experience fear as a survival strategy – one that’s been very successful for the survival of our species.
But when we fear something that we can’t fight or flee from, our anxiety soars. We feel vulnerable and out of control, and that doesn’t make us feel secure or safe.
Of course, if you’ve experienced trauma, then you’re all too familiar with that vulnerability, sense of being out of control, and the lack of security or safety. Hence, an event like this lockdown happens, and those old feeling are triggered.
The Need to Control
So, let’s look a little deeper at our need to control.
It really is natural for us to want to control our environment. In fact, most of our anxiety comes from our attempt to control what we really can’t control – other people.
If you’ve experienced trauma, you know exactly what it feels like to be out of control. So when an event like the lockdown happens, that lack of control acts as your trigger.
But even if you haven’t had a trauma, think back to a recent event that caused you anxiety or stress. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll likely discover that you were under that stress because you were trying to be in control of something that you just couldn’t control, just like with abuse or trauma.
Entrepreneurs can’t control how many people buy what they are selling. That causes stress. Employees can’t control whether they get selected for that job promotion. That too causes stress.
And none of us can control this virus, the actions of other people who are potentially causing greater risk, or the government’s response to any of it. We also can’t control how long this goes on for, what an ease of the lockdown will include, and what “normal” will look like, bringing us back around to the fear of the unknown.
As complex as this solution may sound, I do have a solution: Surrender control.
Whether you’re triggered by the lockdown due to a past trauma or not, you’re experiences are valid and real. You’re allowed to feel whatever you’re feeling.
You’re also allowed to let yourself move forward, to work through the trigger and to minimise any future triggers.
The best way I know how to do this, after surviving 10-years of child abuse, is through surrendering the need to control the uncontrollable.
Of all the things you can’t control during this lockdown, there is that one exception that has the power to change it all: You.
Focus on what you do have control over, because you have more than you realise. Through all of this, and anything else, you can control yourself – your actions and reactions, including your thoughts and intentions.
By focusing on what you can control, you’re more likely to develop an action plan that works for you. Suddenly, you no longer feel as lonely or vulnerable, fear the unknown or feel out of control.
Instead, you feel confident and optimistic.