REM sang that they felt fine at the end of the world as we know it. But I’m guessing that now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, inside your head, it often feels anything BUT fine.
You know, when you’re lying in bed counting the days until rent is due, or wondering if there will be school next year, or if the economy will ever recover, or insert your worry du jour here.
While it’s completely normal to have them, those thoughts can be wrecking balls to your carefully laid plans to stay calm and manage things in a positive way.
We’re making our way through the 21-day Calm the Eff Down Challenge (if you haven’t been listening to my How to Be a Better Person podcast… umm, why not?? Ok, no judgment. But click here and take a listen! It starts on Episode 170. The episodes are short, interesting and actionable). As we’re diving into some of the big stressors (like those other people you’re sheltered with!) it helps to remember the firm foundation we built in week one. Keep it simple with these tips to stay calm.
The calm the eff down foundation
Think of these as four legs on the table. Once these are in place it’s easier to build on the rest of it and craft a calm approach to life that even works in a pandemic.
Step 1: Buckle up. Admit it. Once the pandemic became a thing, your emotions boarded a roller coaster, buckled up, and TOOK off! This is so normal. Wildly vacillating emotions are a very human response to wildly vacillating circumstances. I know emotions can be painful and bewildering, but they are kind of like the monster in your closet when you were little—they aren’t great representations of reality. To help them not feel so overwhelming, start by just accepting you are, in fact, on an emotional rollercoaster. There will be highs and there will be lows. And that’s ok. Taking the time to name your feelings will help them move along.
Step 2: Take Inventory of your “medicine” cabinet. We all tend to have an emotional “helper” of some sort. In a judgment-free zone, let’s look at how much wine you’re drinking or weed you’re using, or other vices you’re doing to tune out. Whatever your “medicine” is, take three big breaths before you reach for ‘em. Reduce the use. Keep it in balance, especially during a time where nothing is in balance. I mean, listen, maybe you’ll ask yourself what you need and you’ll decide that it’s a glass of wine. FINE BY ME. Just whatever you do, try to make it a choice that you’re aware of making. And take it one beer at a time, my friends!
Step 3: Yes, balance. Who doesn’t feel a bit wobbly these days? Income taking a hit. Tempers getting short. Too much time wondering how to fix things out of your control. But in times of deep stress we often do the exact thing we shouldn’t! According to Podcast Guest Carey Davidson, author of the Five Archetypes, our primary approach to life, the approach that we’re wired to do, works less well in times of stress. We need to activate the skills of a different archetype to move away from stress. You can learn more by taking her assessment. Take a pause when things are overheating, sort of like backing off the gas pedal when the engine is smoking… Slow down and go against your first instinct to bring yourself back into balance. For example, I love to eat chips when I’m stressed, but that just ends up agitating my system more. If I can pause long enough to realize I need stress relief, I can go on a walk outside again, which ultimately way more soothing to my system.
Step 4: Stay right here. Every instinct in us wants to plan. To think about “when this ends.” Or when life “gets back to normal.” But with every news cycle everything changes and normal seems like a classic channel movie of a time we’ll never see again.
Now if that doesn’t freak you out, nothing will. But more than likely anytime you start to race too far ahead, anxiety is going to race right along with you. So take notice. If you’re getting ahead of yourself, remember, just come back to now. Those plans for the future can wait. Just try to live in this moment. Take it one hour at a time if need be. Don’t even stress about what to have for dinner–just allow yourself to open the cabinets at 5:30 and see what you can whip up. When you wake up in the morning, check in with yourself and ask yourself what you need. If you get agitated, just notice that you’re getting agitated. Then decide what to do about it.
A final thought: Don’t go this alone! We’re all too isolated right now. Subscribe to my mailing list (scroll down and sign up for the Decision-Making Matrix, you’ll get a free gift as well weekly insights). Listen to the podcast. Visit me on Facebook and IG and let’s have a conversation. We’re all taking this challenge together. We can do it. Even in a pandemic.