Collective Grief and Anticipatory Grief may be causing a feeling of discomfort or a feeling you cannot identify. This link will take you to an article explaining why we feel a certain way when there is so much concerning news and the outcomes are uncertain.
How to cope with uncertainty: By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP
We have gone from way too busy trying to get to work and then get home from work only to need to be somewhere else. This lifestyle keeps us in a high cortisol level where we do not even realize how our body will react when we stop. It is like when you were little and you spun around really fast with your arms out and then stopped - you felt dizzy. The same with being overly busy, when you stop, you are very tired and may even feel depressed for a few days. Add in the uncertainty of things and the transition to working at home (or loss of job) it is not surprise we are feeling very tired. Take a nap and don't be mad at it, this is a time to rest and reassess. This can be a time of renewal where we reemerge stronger, better, and healthier. Look at this time as a "reboot". Also....we are given a few weeks where we we can organize and clean our hamster holes;)
It is an interesting phenomena that people with constant anxiety during "normal times" tend to appear less stressed or calm during times of crisis. This is due to the environment meeting them emotionally/chaos/high anxiety where they live daily. They look around and function well (appeared calmness) with an expression of *Meh because this is where they always function. They look around and think,"Welcome to the Thuderdome of our daily feelings". If they were waiting for the other shoe to drop, they now know what that shoe is and that is a little bit relieving because the intangible worry has been met with a tangible answer. While doing better in crisis might appear to be a good thing, it is not good for long term health when the crisis is over.
Be present in your right now and what you are doing right now, that is all that is required of you. Take a deep breath and only think about what you need to do right now. Stress often times is a compilation of ALL the things we need to do or all the things we want. They all flood our mind at once causing panic. Ground yourself with thinking about what is happening right now and the only thing I need to do, in this moment, is what is before me. That's it. Practice taking a deep breath and not thinking about the "next thing".
Traveling to the future will cause anxiety.
Traveling to the past will "many times" cause anger.
Of course, we need to plan for the future and organize our time but through that organization we can breath and be present knowing everything has its place.
We need to remember the past and process the past but it is not our now or our future unless we let it.Taking this time to better understand our mindset and how our emotions work is an opportunity to emerge stronger and better.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. - Corrie Ten Boom
First, fear disengages our brains from thinking and does not have purpose in perceived danger. We need to think. I always tell my students and clients, "Don't let your thoughts become an emotion you don't want to have". Our emotions are 100% rooted in out thoughts. The good news is that if we cannot control our circumstances, we can control our thoughts. However, it does go through perception and our personal perceptions are created by what we have experienced and learned in our lives. Your perceptions might be stuck on "negative" and your perceptions need to be adjusted. To change your emotions you need to change your mindset, you need to adjust your perspective and change your thoughts. Try it...and be intentional about what you want to think about. It may feel weird at first but make yourself change your thoughts and perspective and see if your emotions do not change. If it is hard to do, make a list of the things you want to think about (positive) and start there. We do not ignore what is happening in our lives and if we cannot change the circumstances we can change how we feel about them. Our emotions are contagious and in these close quarters of confinement, spread the good stuff!
Stress can be productive and stress can be destructive. Your choice. Our bodies respond to stress and perceived stress the same way. This means if you think something is dangerous then your body creates the chemicals, such as cortisol, in response to that fear (real or perceived).
Our perceptions and time spent thinking on a situation trains our brain (cortical thickening) to automatically have an emotion over the circumstance. If we are escalated (angry, afraid, worried), our brains do not think as well and they have a hard time with reason.
You have created a default in your brain to a positive or negative that you have created through thickening that area of your brain's response. You can change this, but like working out from out of shape to in shape, it takes time, commitment, and hard work. Here is the first simple step.....
The Chocolate brownie effect: If I tell you not to think about chocolate brownies, you automatically have a picture of what chocolate brownies look like to you and an emotion is attached of "Yum" or "Yuck" based upon your experience with chocolate brownies.
The Challenge: Since your brain works in pictures and is constantly thinking....choose what you want to think on. If you need to change your perception, then change the picture. Worry can go from fearful thoughts (pictures) to peaceful thoughts (pictures). Try it. Choose a few pictures that make you feel at peace and make yourself see that picture in your mind when you are afraid. Did your thought change? Did your emotion change? You brain is constantly thinking, be in charge of what it is deciding to think about.
I chose the picture to the right for when my kiddos are acting "high energy". I could be frustrated or I could think "Party time!". One will form connection and one will drive disconnection. I choose connection....even if it means my work needs to wait...it will be there later and it doesn't care when I give it attention. My kiddos do.
How we think makes us who we are - If you don't like the way you think.. transform it!:)
Proverbs 23:7 " As a man thinks so he shall be"
Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".
As we are all in close quarters the next few days, weeks, and possible months, we could get annoyed and have regrets on how we respond. If a room is messy or a dish is in the sink, let it go. You have the power to help people feel good or feel badly. That sets the tone for the next series of interactions. Here is the idea to help adjust our mindset:
If it will not matter in 5 seconds - let it go.
If it will not matter in 5 minutes - let it go.
If it will not matter in 5 days - let it go.
If it will not matter in 5 months - possibly let it go.
If it will not matter in five years - consider if you need to invest in a solution.
Anything that does not matter in less than 5 months - let it go.
We will not remember the mess but we will remember how we felt during our time together. Those are the memory stamps, the feelings. Create the feelings you want people to remember.s
Hi! I’m Carolyn. I am a 32 year old math professor. I am single, typically live on my own and for the most part am a pretty social person. I have lived in Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Wisconsin, so I have friends who live all over the country, and have relocated back to my hometown of Cleveland , Ohio just under two years ago. Most of my childhood friends have moved away and I’ve been trying to make a new group of local friends as an adult. I love to play video games, board games, and in general I’m what you would describe as a nerd or a geek, a badge I wear with pride. I also have parents who are both over 70, with whom I am living, as we try to ride out this stay at home order. I moved in with them after I had to put down my beloved cat, Ellie, over two weeks ago, right before Ohio’s stay at home order came out. As much as I desperately miss her, it was in her passing that I figured out how I was going to make it though all the social distancing.
The day I put her down, I posted on social media about it. I’ve had so many friends far and wide who really cared about her, so I felt like they deserved to hear about it. And this was one of the best things I could have done. My friends from far and wise out poured their love, checking to make sure that I’d be okay.This helped me realize that no matter how much distance is between us my friends still love me, and that physical social distance does not equal emotional social distance.
I have no excuses now about being too busy to call that friend I’ve been meaning to for weeks, my errands can’t be run and I can do my laundry any time of day. I’d say my social calendar is empty, but it absolutely isn’t. I’ve made plans to play dungeons and dragon’s online, hang out with my board gaming group from Wisconsin, and meet up with a bunch of my grad school colleges online too. I still have church on Sunday afternoons and Saturday I still do the crossword with my parents, just like we would if we weren’t trapped in the house. My colleagues and I even did a virtual happy hour Friday, to celebrate surviving our first week of online instruction. I may have to plan more and be more active about making social situations, but I can have them, if I want them.
It’s been great to get back in touch with so many people I live far away from. Since everything has to move online, its easy to do things together even if we’re far apart. Zoom meetings are great for chatting, and my local social group has put together a discord server where you can pop in to a voice chat or just message each other about your animal crossing island. It’s of course still hard to not just grab a beer with them and chat, but I still feel so connected and included without it.
For me, its been about being active in choosing to be social and participate. I’m choosing to physically social distance, to help save lives, but I’m also choosing not to emotionally social distance. By deciding I’m not a passive participant but an active one, I gain back some of the control I feel I have lost, and I can live my life, in a way that honors who I am and protects the most vulnerable.
Social distancing and social isolation…the new buzz words in our society today. But, how do you practice social distancing and social isolation when you have older parents who should not be going out in society due to their age and health risk factors? As an only child I have spent many hours alone finding ways to entertain myself, so the idea of social isolation is not a totally foreign concept to me. But even at times when I was “alone” growing up, my parents were always around. Because of this my relationship with my parents is very strong. As an adult on my own, I still stop by their house for dinner a couple nights of week, attend Sunday mass together and takes vacations as a family unit.
Then one day one parent starts to have health issues and then the other follows behind with their own issues. One has a heart attack and neurological issues that have been monitored for years. The other parent, who was usually fairly healthy, develops crippling arthritis, amongst other health issues. This changed the relationship I have with my parents from them being my caregiver to me being their caregiver. I am able to maintain my independence for the most part, but I will always do what they need me to do to make their lives easier. My parents are my number one priority and I will do anything to help and protect them.
So, what happens one day is God decided I am going to throw humans a huge curve ball with this novel virus called COVID-19. Watching reports of the virus rearing its ugly head in the United States and the age group it was initially targeting became a huge problem for me. Not to mention the fact as a biologist I soon realized how big of a problem this virus could become.I began to worry about not only myself, but especially for my parents. I began to let my mind get out of control about how can I continue to fulfill my work and life obligations and do what I need to do to keep my parents as safe as I can. My fear was I would carry the virus to them and make them sick. What could I do? I decided early on that interacting with them in person was out of the question. This was a difficult decision for me and my parents initially had a difficult time accepting my choice but soon accepted it because they realized I am doing out of concern for their health and the immense love I have for them.
The next question would be how can I protect them from this terrible virus. I am not only distancing myself from them, but I put them on quarantine three weeks ago. This means anything they need done outside of their home was now my responsibility. Even though I know going to the grocery store, bank, or any place else they would go to would potentially put me at risk to contracting the virus, I knew I had no choice but to do these things for them. I make a run to the grocery store for them about every 7-10 days. I will not go into their house to see them when I drop off their groceries, but instead, I leave their groceries inside their side door. If they need me to run any other errands for them, such as banking, they will leave their stuff at the grocery drop off point. Once I put the groceries inside their door, I go to their back deck just so we can see each other through their glass patio door. This is the closest physical contact I now have with my parents. But, even though we do not see each other often, we talk numerous time each day.
This virus has put up a temporary road block in the typical relationship I have with my parents, but I will continue to do all I can for them to keep them safe and healthy. Hopefully soon we can go back to our old relationship and I can enjoy Mom’s home cooking a couple nights a week, as well as our Sunday mass time together.
Social distancing, schooling from home and #quarantined… As if cancelled spring break plans were not enough, the outlook can overwhelm parents at home and parents trying to work from home. Add to that the weight of continued learning for children who are typically in school. We find ourselves not only sifting through our own thoughts and emotions but coming alongside our children as we navigate these uncertain days. No easy task. Numbing ourselves to the reality is no solution. But rather recognizing and properly addressing the thoughts and emotions going on within our walls will build stronger family units. And stronger families will build a stronger community once we come out of this. And that gives me a better picture and perspective.
Our pre-quarantine lives were non-stop, social and structured. Sanity and security were found in the routine rhythms of life. And fulfillment is often found in our ability to function and accomplish daily tasks. Take these daily rhythms away and we find ourselves with a void. And if we are not intentional our goal will be merely survive and not thrive.
We have six children ranging in ages from 7-20 spanning Elementary, JH, HS and College . The sudden stop in activity was honestly refreshing at first. Our bodies and mind needed a little rest and recovery. But after a week of R&R the opposite end of the spectrum is in sight if we continue with no clear plan or objective. Momentum leads to victory but mopey mode leads to victim mentality.
We are fighting for victory. Coming out of this battle against COVID-19 stronger and not weaker is the goal. Laziness lingers in the air and the battle to keep everyone motivated is my greatest challenge. Once daily disciplines are denied, I believe depression and defeat will soon follow. Your children need instruction and examples. Realizing it starts with me I have to change my view. This is a moment in history unlike any other. An entire world is staying home under the weight of COVID-19. I have been reading about women throughout history who stepped up and stood strong in the face of oppression, depression, and for us a possible recession. Look at Esther in the Bible who “for such a time as this” boldly stood strong and set her people free. Recognizing the great opportunity afforded. Realize our children will tell their children of theses days. What will it look like to them in hindsight? IF we wave the white flag, so will they.
Here are three steps I am taking in my own life to fight the inward struggle:
Renew - Refocus - Revive -Restructure
Charge the mind. This is where the battle begins.
Our thoughts give way to attitude and action. So what are we thinking on?
Jesus says “So we do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” II CORINTHIANS 4.16
With so much uncertainty in the news and all around I am running to the CERTAIN things in life. Godʼs Promises are CERTAIN. He has NEVER failed us yet and HIS promises are TRUE. Philippians 4 says “whatever is TRUE, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything excellent and worthy of praise THINK on THESE things.” Start your day reading the PROMISES that are TRUE. READ the UNCHANGING promises of God in constantly CHANGING times.
Change the lens. See the opportunity afforded us. See the BIGGER picture. I am a photographer and if I continually see the situation in the “macro” lens I will only focus on the tiny details. Losing sight of the bigger picture. Overwhelmed and unable to breath in the closeness of it all. OR I can choose to put the wide-angle lens on and see a far greater picture. One that our creator God sees. Understanding that this small blip of my life is giving way to a far greater GLORY. One that is eternal. Picture a drone flying over this situation and the ripple effect to our daily choices not only effect the home we reside in but can have a greater impact outside these walls eventually. My choices today matter. My life matters. Not because I am great but because the ONE who made me is and HE desires our lives to play part in an eternally far bigger picture than the one we see…
“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. As we LOOK not to the things that are SEEN but to the things that are UNSEEN. For the things that are SEEN are transient, but the things that are UNSEEN are eternal.” II CORINTHIANS 4.16-18
PICTURE your role with eternal WEIGHT. SEE the opportunity. Capture the moment and consider those women who have gone on before you. Read a biography.
Cheer on the crew. Take the CHARGE. Once we change our thoughts the ripple effect will affect those around us. Joy bubbles over. Just like a yawn is contagious so is laughter and joy… And that joy is a fruit of the Spirit within us. “For the fruit of the SPIRIT is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONG SUFFERING against such there is no law.” Ephesians 5
Live a contagious life.
This mental process is not a one and done. I have found myself repeating the process multiple times throughout the day. And her are some practical processes we are going to try and practice as a family to accomplish THRIVING not SURVIVING.
Restructuring will not look exactly like our normal routine BUT our days WILL need structure. Here are some practical ideas we are trying:
1) Setting a time to wake up by [giving some liberty but not allowing laziness] A daily time to work out. Write out a simple exercise circuit. Change it daily. School Work before lunch, TV and electronics.
2) Make a good breakfast and create a space for everyone to be “in it” together.
3) Reward hard work with free time or leisure time.
4) Before dinner give a chore (Community task). Eating motives our children to do just about anything. We are a Community.
5) Play a family game after dinner. Or just go outside and play together. 6) Read a Proverb a day together. Each person read a couple verses and share which was your favorite truth. 7) Bake something you have always wanted to try BUT didnʼt have the time.
8) Crank the music and dance it out as you clean or just have fun being carefree and cheerful! Let them choose the songs and let them laugh at you dancing.
9) Stick with a consistent bedtime to ensure good rest , healthy habits and sanity time for mom and dad. This is when NETFLIX comes in!
10) Enjoy time together! Emerge closer and more connected.
Staying Healthy inside and out during this time is vital. We can meet this new challenge and emerge stronger, healthier, and readjusted. Perhaps we were too busy and did not have time. We now have that time to work out at home, to be with family or connect through a call, and really slow down and assess our thought processes.