In 2020 we have faced a frightening pandemic, racial tensions, financial upheaval, and a historic presidential election. On top of it all, conspiracy theories abound as we try to make sense of what has been a year like no other. What we all know is that we are all being put to the ultimate stress test. Yet even though we are tired and still seeing lots of tension and a sharp rise in people struggling with depression and anxiety, substance abuse, unemployment, relationship strain (divorces are on the rise) we are all responsible for how we respond to the challenges we are facing…and most of it is external and has very little to do with us internally. How are we going to be able to move on from all of this? Here are some FUN™ ways to get started!
We are all in this together! Focus on what stories you are creating about this…
First things first, it is helpful to know that we are truly not alone in these experiences. As a collective, all of us in the United States have been subjected directly or indirectly to Covid-19, job loss, financial distress, isolation from friends and family, and tumult both socially and politically. At a time when all of this feels too much to bear, we can be thankful that we are also living in a technological age where we can reach anyone at any time. It has become easier than ever to call someone, text, email, Facebook, or Zoom. Support and camaraderie are literally a text away. Let that bring you some comfort and call a friend for a virtual coffee date or hop on a Yoga Nidra session via Zoom! So pay attention to what you are telling yourself.
Writing our way to well-being-Undo the thoughts that you are creating
Many of us have been left feeling adrift in this pandemic. We went from jobs and routines and identity and connection to being isolated at home with an uncertain future. A lot of us are living in fear right now and we don’t know how to release it. James Pennebaker, PhD, writes in Psychology Today that “the most effective tool for restarting lives has proved to be a pen- expressively writing about the experience of job loss.” Writing in a journal for even a few minutes a day about any experience, be it job loss or relationship issues, fear about Covid-19 or sadness about isolation, can release the negative emotions and help us to gain perspectives we might not have realized had we spent the same amount of time ruminating in our heads. Pennebaker explains that in a study of engineers who had been laid off, those who participated in expressive writing about the layoff for 30 minutes a day five days in a row reported feeling happier, healthier, and were hired to new jobs faster than those who didn’t write about their experiences. If you are feeling overwhelmed, pick up a pen and write it down. By doing so you may gain some new perspectives and open up space for fresh ideas to blossom. Once you write down and see the thoughts you are creating, you can get out of your head and Undo them.
Living peacefully in the age of conspiracy
This year, it seems that conspiracy theories are everywhere. From QAnon to theories about how Covid-19 began to add concerns about 5G causing the pandemic to flourish, we can’t seem to escape these frightening perspectives that clog our social media feeds and take up time on the nightly news. We tend to think in terms of these theories being unique to that one eccentric relative we have who talks about his outlandish conspiracies at family gatherings. But actually, the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories arises from very common needs we all have to some degree –closure, uniqueness, and desires for certainty among them. For some people, these needs may be stronger and therefore make them more prone to entertain conspiracy theories. Since 2020 has been so confusing and unpredictable (like life), we are all to some degree grasping at straws to make sense of what has happened to the world we knew. Take charge of “The Committee”…stop the inner critic and you bring some FUN™ back into your life. back. If you are not having FUN…what are you thinking about?
We are all trying to make sense of all that has happened this year, and sometimes in the absence of enough factual information we start to “fill in the blanks” with theories (aka stories) that seem to make sense. The antidote to conspiracy theories is facts. The more we can learn about the science behind Covid-19, for instance, the more likely we will be to update our beliefs based on facts. This will help to ease fear and create a stronger sense of certainty, even when things are scary.
Action Items! Now what will you do different!
- Reach out! Make a phone call and stop texting! Set up virtual or socially distanced dates with friends and family. Schedule a special time each day to spend uninterrupted with the loved ones you live with. Share how you feel and ask for support if you need it.
- Write a gratitude list. Give yourself even 5 or 10 minutes a day to write out how you feel. You can write about anything and it doesn’t have to be perfect- just write.
- Exercise…go for a drive…
- Ask for help! Therapists are still seeing clients- virtually or in a socially distanced setting. Take advantage of seeking professional support for feelings of depression, anxiety, and overwhelm.
- Seek community! Isolation has been a hallmark of 2020, and it hasn’t been healthy for anyone. Therapy groups, yoga classes, meditation groups, and other support services are still on and are being offered responsibly. Reach out and find your people!
It takes a little creativity to navigate 2020…but we can do it together (recovery is about connection) and find our footing, and we don’t even need to adopt a conspiracy theory (another story) to do it! If you are looking for support, and a lot of FUN™, check out the offerings at Limitless Potentials! You can find information about groups and therapy services, Yoga Nidra offered on site (space is limited or by zoom) our upcoming 2021 Women’s Ceremony (live and by zoom), as well as tips to stay safe and sane, right here on the website.