We are on an Emotional Covid Roller Coaster right now. This a straight up fact. And what do roller coasters have? Highs, and lows. And curves that whip your head around and even some slow times when nothing much is happening but you just know you’re about to get the shit kicked out of you. Accepting that this is where we are, and that our feelings are going to be all over the place, will help us deal with all the feels.
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Don’t Be Fooled By Social Media Sublimation
So, if you go on social media now, and certainly if you were there the first few weeks of the quarantine, you probably saw a lot of people talking about all the great stuff they were baking, and talking about their plans to learn a language, or to do household projects, or starting their seeds. I did some of these things. I got some seeds started and got ridiculously excited when they sprouted, thinking about my bumper crop of cauliflower come August.
This was all good stuff, nothing wrong with it at all. It was our attempt to make the best of a bad situation. But it was also something else—sublimation, which is a fancy word for stuffing down your feelings. Who can be sad when there’s bread to made? Masks to be sewn? Ceiling fans to be dusted?
Get Your Tickets To Ride The Grief Roller Coaster
For many of us our kids have been home for over a month now. And guess what’s happening? Our feelings are catching up to us. Also, we’re sick of bread. Maybe even our sweatpants are starting to get tight. We’re moving into a new phase.
I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to be feeling all kinds of crazy feelings now. Part of what we’re feeling is grief—grief for life as we knew it, grief for our plans, grief for the ones we’ve lost, grief for our economy, our security. You get the idea. And grief is like an ocean. It comes in waves. Sometimes it’s all peaceful and serene and you can really see the sunlight glinting off the water and makes you appreciate the beauty that’s all around you, and the next a wave has crashed on your head and your face is getting smashed into the sand and you can’t breath.
But really, everything is on the table, for very good reason—anger, frustration, irritability, lethargy, depression, anxiety—oh the anxiety!, general malaise.
I Just Want To Say That You’re Entitled To Your Feelings
They are yours. Even though they don’t feel neutral, they kind of are —they’re understandable reactions to pretty crazy circumstances. Wishing you didn’t feel that way, or feeling bad about yourself because you’re feeling a certain way, is like feeling bad that your stomach is lurching or your hair is flying every which way when you’re on a roller coaster. Because, remember, we are on an emotional roller coaster.
The Good News Is The Emotional Covid Roller Coaster Moves Pretty Quick
If you’re up now, you’ll be down in just a little while. And pretty soon, the ride is over completely . It will start up again tomorrow, we don’t get to say how long this particular roller coaster lasts, but the feelings we’re feeling now won’t last. It’s OK that they’re here. We can just fasten our seat belts and keep breathing and soon we’ll be on to something else. It’s ok. You’re not crazy. There’s nothing wrong with you. In fact, it’s so very right to be affected by everything that’s happening now.
The irony is that the fastest way through any emotion is to allow yourself to feel it. We’ll talk more about the things we’re all reaching for to try to numb out a little bit tomorrow. There’s a time and a place for everything, but if you become more accepting of your emotions, they won’t have to try so hard to get your attention. They’ll say their peace and then they’ll move on.
Today’s tiny assignment can help you do just that.
I call this exercise Say Hello to My Little Friend
Instead of ignoring or stuffing down the next emotional Covid roller coaster that rears its head, ask yourself, What exactly am I feeling right now?
Give that feeling a name, and be as specific as possible: Indignation. Resignation. Loneliness. Hurt.
Why be as specific as possible? Because in order to accurately identify an emotion, you have to allow yourself to feel it. And actually feeling how you feel is the most efficient way to process those emotions so that they can move on.
And then, say, Hi there, loneliness. I see you.
You can almost feel the shift in your body when you can acknowledge an emotion. I did this just this morning on my dog walk, when I realized I had been having an imaginary argument with a friend for the better part of a block. This was ALL happening inside my head. I was walking so fast and had a scowl on my face, and then I realized, oh! I’m angry!! I thought about where I felt it, and it felt like a coiled snake in my belly that was ready to strike. And then I though, well hello there anger, and by the time I got to the top of that hill, my body felt a lot softer and I thought that whole drama I was just envisioning was really pretty silly.
When you acknowledge your feelings, It might make you realize just how much effort you’ve been expending on willing yourself NOT to feel something. And it might make you tired. So give yourself plenty of time to rest these days, deal? It’s exhausting, all this feeling stuff.
Come on back tomorrow for Day 2 of the Calm the Eff Down 21 Day Challenge, when we’re talking about taking a look at the things we use to numb out.