Right now, there is a large amount of uncertainty and stress during this COVID-19 pandemic. A large amount of my session time this week has been spent discussing how to maintain balance and wellness when there are many moving pieces during this unprecedented time.
While we cannot control what is happening in the world, we can control how we spend our time. It can be so tempting to stay locked on our screens and consume the news like crazy. Yes, we all want to know what is going on so that we can make the smart and responsible decisions. Yes, we all want to know what is going on so that we can manage the logistical puzzles that are our daily responsibilities. At what point do you practice self-compassion and understanding by saying, “I am doing the best I can with what I have right now, and that is acceptable and enough?” without being bogged down by what your psuedo-normal may be in this moment? My answer: balance and boundaries.
BOUNDARIES: The line between “I want to be informed and up to speed on what’s going on” and “this news/media consumption is not going to be good for me right now” is a delicate one and looks different from person to person. Too much of anything can be unhealthy, unproductive, etc., so why would that idea change amidst a pandemic? (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. In fact, balance during the pandemic is arguably more crucial!) Additionally, if we can control what we do and how we take care of ourselves, this is the time to harness that control and hold ourselves accountable to ensure we are engaging in related and relevant healthy boundaries.
Set aside some time every day or establish a set amount of times that you are going to check in on the news, and leave it at that. Ask those around you for 10 minutes of quiet. Explain to your boss that electronic correspondence is preferred, when possible, if you are managing a house full of energetic kids while working. Turn your phone on silent for periods throughout the day if you can. It’s important to know when to say “enough is enough” and further, practicing patience with yourself and honoring if your threshold for said things is understandably lower.
BALANCE: Let’s live in a both/and world. That is, we can live in a world where we are BOTH concerned and anxious about what is to come AND taking this time to disconnect and engage in some rest and relaxation when and where we can. One does not negate the other or make the other any less true.
I think it’s totally acceptable to reframe this time as both stressful and as an opportunity. It’s concerning because there are so many unanswered questions and challenges surrounding social distancing (i.e. balancing work and family life). It’s also a time of opportunity, one that can be used to reflect, grow, prioritize, relax (if possible), learn, and adapt. It can sound contradictory and confusing, but living in a world where both are true lends itself to flexible thinking, which is also related to psychological wellness and resiliency. We can be BOTH in distress about the time being AND be in awe of how an international crisis brings out the best, most resourceful and gritty version of ourselves.
I love using the metaphor “you cannot pour from an empty cup” when processing what self care, boundaries, and balance looks like for an individual. Every person has a set of needs, each person with a unique and nuanced set, and there is no “right or wrong” when assessing what those needs entail. A pandemic doesn’t change that.
If finding that balance requires some outside support, reach out to us at lightonanxiety.com to schedule appointment. We are here for you!
Stay healthy and well. (And practice self-care!)