Table of contents:
- Pandemic, quarantines, economic crisis, a mess in world politics - you and I live in a clearly turbulent time. How I would like to close my eyes and wake up in another time, in another place, where peace and harmony reign around, and the future is cloudless and filled with certainty. But, unfortunately, life did not foresee such an option. Therefore, let's try to figure out how not to lose reason and the remnants of humanity when there is chaos and confusion around. I will tell you about several techniques for self-support
- Anxiety is natural
- Where it is thin, there it is torn
- How to preserve humanity. Self-support tips
- What can help us get through these difficulties?
Video: Self-help Tips. How To Deal With Anxiety During A Pandemic - Self-development, Society
Pandemic, quarantines, economic crisis, a mess in world politics - you and I live in a clearly turbulent time. How I would like to close my eyes and wake up in another time, in another place, where peace and harmony reign around, and the future is cloudless and filled with certainty. But, unfortunately, life did not foresee such an option. Therefore, let's try to figure out how not to lose reason and the remnants of humanity when there is chaos and confusion around. I will tell you about several techniques for self-support
Anxiety is natural
How would you react to a situation in which something threatens your life and health, your family? You would probably react with excitement, even if the specific actions were different: someone would go on the offensive, start to fight the threat. Someone would try to escape, to take refuge with their loved ones in a secluded place so that the threat bypasses. Someone else would freeze in a stupor and uncertainty, would be faced with the inability to concentrate and gather the courage to begin to undertake anything. All of these behaviors are normal defensive responses to danger.
Now let's imagine that all of humanity plunged into a defensive reaction at once. Some are indignant, write angry posts, organize protests, revealing the shortcomings of the rotten system. Others panicky and try to be safe by consuming more information, grabbing at any straws of certainty, avoiding any potential encounter with danger. Still others stubbornly deny the existence of problems and pretend that the worm of doubt at heart is just a consequence of the fruitless hype in the media.
You may have ended up in any of these camps over the past few weeks. And this is completely normal. It is very difficult, painful, scary, it gives rise to unrest, food shortages, unforeseen changes in the global economy - but it is natural for us to be alarmed when we are faced with danger. As a species, humans survived precisely because they were worried about possible dangers, and it would be strange if, in the face of a pandemic, economic collapse and political upheavals, we remained indifferent and cool. Thanks to our alarm for taking care of us as best she can.
Where it is thin, there it is torn
In this article, we will not deal with the analysis of the reality of the threat looming over us. Many of you are already mired in an abundance of facts, statistics, medical articles, interviews with opinion leaders. Instead, let's try to touch on how what is happening affects our mental state and what all this is fraught with.
To begin with, it is important to understand that the flood of bad news, abrupt changes in the habitual way of life and continuous uncertainty create a stress response in our body - and this stress is with us, most likely, for a long time.
This means that in the near future, all of us will aggravate what we were inclined to
In people predisposed to anxiety, the level of anxiety will rise above normal, so there is a high probability of encountering hypochondria, all sorts of phobias, obsessions, panic attacks. Those who have experienced depression in the past may find themselves in the midst of another depressive episode, unable to cope with the flow of negative thoughts, fatigue and hopelessness. If you were previously prone to somatic reactions to stress, then it is quite natural that now symptoms associated with digestion, blood vessels and heart, headaches, and skin conditions may return.
People who have experienced psychological trauma may experience severe mood swings, ranging from hyperexcitation with irritability and aggressiveness to complete loss of energy, apathy and asthenia. People with eating disorders may revert to overeating or eating restrictions. People with a history of substance abuse may have increased cravings for alcohol and drugs. If you have had difficulties with anger management before, then aggression may again be asked to come out, and even mastered techniques of emotional regulation may fail at the most crucial moment.
All of our ineffective patterns of coping with strong feelings surface - this may not be to our liking, but to be expected. And remember that it is never a shame to ask for help: psychologists and psychotherapists are now working no less actively than doctors to help people cope with what is happening.
How to preserve humanity. Self-support tips
It's not about a crystal ball predicting a bad future. The fact is that a direct threat to life and health reveals in us the deepest and most ancient patterns of response. It is as if those higher parts of the brain that are responsible for logic, thinking, planning, and assessing the wide context of the situation stop working for us. We again begin to be guided by emotions that pull us, like puppets, by the hands, feet and tongue - as if we lose willpower as soon as we find ourselves in danger. Therefore, our main task now is to remain human.
What can help us get through these difficulties?
What will become the anchor that can be dropped to the bottom to ride out the storm?
1. Present moment
Where are you in your thoughts when you read the latest reports on the overseas quarantine? In the past, regretting your own hindsight? Or in the future, presenting in color the coming disasters? At such moments, we can be captured by fears, anger, resentment, sadness, helplessness. But something still remains at our disposal: our body is not going anywhere from us, and we have it right now.
Simple actions help us to feel in touch with the present moment and to pull ourselves out of anxious thoughts, like Baron Munchausen by the hair from a swamp. Simple movements are always at hand: you can shift from foot to foot, from toes to heels, in order to feel the ground, the contact of the feet with the floor, stability. You can stand up if you were sitting or sit down if you were standing. You can clench your fists, stretch your neck and jaw. Even a minimal warm-up will shift your focus to the body, and it will return you to what you really need to do right now.
To recall the need to return to the present moment, a simple abbreviation will help: STOP.
S - stop: pause, stop doing what you are doing, turn off your smartphone.
T - three conscious inhalation-exhalation: notice how the air tickles the nostrils, how the stomach deflates and inflates, the chest moves.
Oh - look around: fix your gaze on three or four objects in your environment, name them to yourself ("orange lamp", "wooden table", "blue sky").
P - keep doing what is important: remember what urgent tasks are facing you right now, as well as what kind of person you would actually like to be in the current situation.
2. Change of perspective
When the pandemic and crisis is over, we will all know what they were made of. A shift in perspective into the future is something you might think of when you once again face overwhelming anxiety. For this, the "Future Self" practice can be useful.
Practice "Future I"
Sit comfortably so that nothing distracts you for a few minutes. If it's convenient now, you can close your eyes. Pay attention to your general state now: agitated or calm, relaxed or tense. Now do the trick with your attention: try to imagine that you are now looking at yourself from the outside. It's like you are the observer sitting at the other end of the room and looking at yourself: at your posture, facial expression. And now the second trick: this observer is you. This is you from the future, some 5 years later. Try to get used to the role of this “Future I” (you don't even need to think about the details of everything that happened to you during this time, we still won't know it). This Future Self looks at you in the present and knows exactly what is happening to you now, what you are going through, because the Future Self was also there. At the same time, now you are from the future - which means that you are 5 years wiser, more experienced, stronger, older. During this time, life has tested your strength and taught you a couple of important lessons. And the most important thing is that it is still you, which means that the Future Self is filled with a desire to take care of you and alleviate your suffering at this difficult time. What will the future self tell you in the present? How will it support? What will he do to help you get through the peak of anxiety and uncertainty?to help you get through the peak of anxiety and uncertainty?to help you get through the peak of anxiety and uncertainty?
Sometimes such a mental journey into the future gives us a new look at what is happening and reveals in us deposits of wisdom that we did not even know about. At the same time, no one knows us like we do ourselves, therefore words of support can be much more accurate than what we hear from others.
3. Kindness and humanity
Crisis situations exacerbate our survival instinct, and in an attempt to save ourselves and our loved ones, we often forget how strongly we are connected with other people. Look around you: on the faces of your neighbors, colleagues, passers-by on the street, metro passengers, you will meet the same worried look of the hunted animals. We are all scared now - and this does not separate us, but on the contrary, reminds us of how we are all alike.
Practices of compassion and loving-kindness, which are now easy to learn online, help us remember our community and train our ability to take care of ourselves and others. Most teachers of such practices have now switched to distance learning and often offer such classes for free. What is happening around is exactly what these practices were invented for.
If you have no experience of this kind of contemplative practice at all, you can start simple. For example, take a minute, close your eyes and remember during this minute all those people who have put their love and care in you. Try to mentally hear what words of encouragement these people might say to you; feel how they wish you health and safety, patience and well-being. And most importantly, try to notice how this minute will affect your inner state, what emotions will appear, how your body will react.
Another common and simple practice is the practice of gratitude: you can take a piece of paper and write on it a list of 5-10 things or events for which you feel grateful. These can be small joys and gifts, good deeds and words. It could be something that we usually take for granted: for example, electricity, clean water, heat, a roof over our heads.
Who knows, maybe you will find the courage to thank for something and the pandemic that is now changing the context of our lives so much? Maybe the current changes are able to show us everything that we have been trying to ignore for so long? Maybe we will finally feel how connected to each other? Maybe this is a chance to reconsider our values and remember those who are truly dear to us? In the end, it's up to you to decide what you will infect others with in this difficult time: fear, hatred and uncertainty - or hope, gratitude and kindness.