Today is day 35 of quarantine. The only escape from the four walls of my home has been the daily walks around our neighborhood. When it’s not snowing. Otherwise my life has revolved around deliveries, disinfecting groceries, catching up with family online, and drinking way too much coffee. There’s only so much I can clean and organize before I go crazy.
If that’s not enough, I’ve been experiencing quite a range of emotions lately. Maybe you have too. I’ve been cheerful, anxious, productive, lethargic, stressed, content, hopeful and heartbroken all in the span of a week. The last 35 days have been a roller coaster and I’m ready to get off this ride.
But it’s not over yet. Our governor just extended our lock down for another month. And “normal” may not be something we get back to anytime soon.
If you’re feeling especially moody these days, please hear me when I say that it’s completely normal. And it’s okay to feel this way.
A lot has changed, and changes are still to come. Our sense of normalcy has been uprooted and the future remains uncertain. We don’t know what is going to happen or what to do about it. Experiencing collective trauma means there’s bound to be an emotional fallout. And more emotions are sure to surge in the coming weeks.
But a physical emergency can become a mental health emergency if you don’t know how to manage your feelings in a healthy way.
Before this pandemic, you may have used external methods like busyness, entertainment, the gym, eating out, traveling or social outings to regulate your moods. Without access to habitual coping methods, you may now feel overwhelmed and trapped, with unwanted emotions to boot. Or maybe you are trying to get relief by micromanaging those around you or ranting online.
Before this pandemic hit, I was in the process of learning how to regulate overwhelming emotions in an effective and healthy way. I was familiar with being home-bound for months on end and the restlessness, loneliness and depression that ensues. I’ve experienced the unpredictability that happens when life falls apart and the frustration of not having enough answers. I’ve cycled through the five stages of grief more than I’d like to count.
Here’s what I’ve learned: the way you choose to respond to what you are feeling has the ability to either calm or exasperate your experience.
The best way to handle an unpredictable and uncertain world is to learn how to successfully manage your internal world. Self-control is really the only kind of control you have. You are not your emotions; you have emotions. And you don’t have to be overwhelmed, fueled or consumed by them.
In light of what we’re all experiencing, I want to share some of the helpful tips I’ve learned when it comes to handling difficult emotions. Stay tuned this week as we highlight 10 powerful emotions and how you can navigate them in a way that maximizes personal growth and health.
As we go through this series, keep these 3 tips in mind:
- Stay present. Resist the urge to mentally drift to what-if scenarios and the future.
- Be attuned to what you are feeling and observe the thought-patterns that emerge as a result.
- Take notice of how your emotions influence your behavior and decision-making.
As the series progresses, each new post will appear on the Home page and in the list below.