In the last few weeks, many of the conversations I’ve had with people have been about worries concerning the future, arguments with loved one’s fears surrounding health and safety, feeling sad and alone, the stress of uncertainty and trouble adjusting to a new norm. It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is emotionally taxing for many of us, and this is okay!
I’m feeling it too.
Let’s face it. If we could be happy all the time, we would be. But that is not always possible. Yes, we do our best to be positive, which is excellent and necessary! But if it is at the expense of shedding light on what those very real, very natural emotions such as fear and worry are signalling to us, especially during times like these or through some other life challenge, then we can get into trouble.
Whether we are avoiding these feelings or are too deeply immersed in them, both strategies can wreak havoc on our bodies, minds and relationships. Instead, it would serve us well to work on building our emotional self-awareness so that we can manage ourselves more effectively.
Once we refine this ability, we can then become aware of other people’s emotional states and have more fulfilling relationships, too, even through stressful times.
But first, let us learn how to deal with our own emotions.
Here are some ideas…
We can reconsider stigmatizing anger, sadness, worry and all the emotions that feel painful to experience just as we also need to rethink glorifying those emotional states that feel more pleasant.
It would be in our best interest to quit labelling emotions as negative or positive. Yes, it is easier for the sake of categorization, but I don’t believe it is helpful.
It might be more constructive to take a neutral stance and view emotions as just emotions. Doing so won’t necessarily take away the intensity with which we feel happy, sad, etc., but it would help to normalize the full range of emotions we can experience.
Normalizing all feelings can lessen shame and judgment and allows us to embrace our humanness.
We can accept that emotional reactions are inevitable and that, once we become aware of what is showing up at the moment, we can access some fantastic insight from them.
Rather than pushing our feelings down or avoiding them, we can ask ourselves what it is that we are feeling right now. We might be feeling many things at once, and this is fine too. Identifying our emotions, whether that is frustration, sadness, or fear, gives those feelings less power over us. We can also take notes on how our emotions are affecting our mental and physical health and our behaviours. How do our emotions impact the way we think?
What physical sensations do we feel when we are angry, scared, etc.? What are our emotions trying to tell us? Why are we feeling this way? How do we behave when we feel this way?
Are our feelings showing us whether we are honouring our values or whether our boundaries are violated? Consider reflecting on these questions.
We can use the information gathered from observing and inquiring about our emotional states to guide us in deciding what it is that we need.
Observing the ways our emotions impact us gives us clarity and valuable clues to our next steps. What do we truly need at this time to take care of ourselves in healthy, life-affirming ways? Do we need a nap? Are we in need of talking to someone?
Maybe we need some alone time. Do we need to say “NO”? Do we need to re-evaluate our priorities? Could we use a change of pace or a change of scenery? Once we have determined what we need, we are empowered to take action in a meaningful way.
We can monitor our emotions to show us that our emotional states are transient, in most cases.
If we keep track of our emotions on a day-to-day basis by jotting down what feelings come up during the day, we notice their impermanence. We can breathe a bit easier when we see that emotions are temporary.
**The exception is if we experience persistent feelings of sadness, anger or suicide. We must consult a qualified mental health professional. There is no shame in getting help, and it most definitely does not mean we are weak. We could all use support. We are not alone.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, there are loud reminders that “We are in this together.” Let this statement apply to life beyond and aside from this pandemic.
We can remind ourselves that other people may be feeling similarly while also being appreciative of differences.
Ask anyone if they have ever felt worried, sad, anxious, angry, lonely at some point, they’d say, of course, they have! It sounds so obvious and yet we tend to forget this.
We feel less isolated in our experience when we remind ourselves that other people have had these feelings either in similar circumstances or different ones. However, we can also recognize that we are diverse in our reactions and responses to challenges.
We can be kind to ourselves.
It might be tempting to compare ourselves and our circumstances with those images we see on social media platforms, and in doing so, it might lead us to believe that we are not doing well or coping well emotionally. Be aware that we are usually more exposed to the “highlights,” rather than the struggles. We do not always get to see the full story behind other peoples’ lives. Knowing this, we can say to ourselves, “Hey, we’re human beings. We are not perfect.”
It isn’t about getting all the self-development methods “right” or showing up like we’ve got it together all the time. Let’s ease up and offer our selves some compassion. We can affirm that “We are doing the best we can, and this is more than enough.”
Be patient with yourself as you try these new ways of relating to your emotions. It will take time. If you need additional worksheets to help you with some of the above activities and you’d like some assistance, feel free to reach out. I am here to help!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
**I would like to offer my deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones due to the coronavirus. My heart goes out to you all. I wish to extend my prayers to those who have contracted the virus. I pray for a speedy recovery. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the frontline workers across all industries that are working tirelessly for us. To everyone, be safe, be well and let’s remain strong.