What we are going through as a nation and a world is completely unprecedented in our lifetime. Other than finding reputable advice on COVID-19 from the CDC and WHO, we are all looking to one another for support to create a daily road map for this uncharted territory we are all traversing with high anxiety. Everyday, we are stuck wondering how we will get through this experience and questioning if we are making the right decisions or not. It is nervewracking. I know these feelings well, as I endured them for more than a year after the onset of PTSD back in 2016.
"Be gentle with yourself" means, you have to let sh*t go and remind yourself that you are already doing your best against all odds.
It is commonly known among mental health professionals and trauma victims that feeling powerless and unsafe in stressful situations can re-traumatize those who have experienced trauma in the past. In January, my husband was away on a business trip, so I was the only parent at home watching over the children. The overwhelming feeling of their protection at night being solely on my shoulders re-traumatized me, causing temporary paralysis while trying to sleep. As part of my goal to survive this awful global pandemic, I am striving to avoid re-traumatization, so that I can continue to run my business, homeschool my kids, tend to my own needs, and play an active role in my community. If I can do it, I know we all can. Here are my tips for staying calm and being resilient when we do not know what the future holds.
Take Back Your Power
I talk about this a lot on my Instagram TV channel because this is one of the best defense mechanisms for when you are panicking. Anxiety often springs from not having control over a thing or situation and ruminating on what could be. Most of those things that could be will not be in our control, so make a list of what you can control instead. Maybe it's what you decide to buy (or order) from the grocery store or how you set up your new daily routine. As you start to take more control over your day-to-day life, your anxiety will start to subside because you have strengthened your ability to stay in the moment.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Should you breathe? Yes. Should you take time to be alone or re-connect with others virtually as needed? Sure. But what about the self-imposed rules and burdens we put on ourselves based on our own high standards? My coping mechanisms have always been perfectionism and trying to control everything. "Be gentle with yourself" means, you have to let sh*t go and remind yourself that you are already doing your best against all odds. Did the kids watch TV for half of the day during the quarantine while you were working? So be it. You had a glass of wine on Wednesday when you typically wait until "Thirsty Thursdays"? Let it go and savor that sip. Now is a time to celebrate small wins. Be happy you have a TV and wine to drink!
Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of strength when you are willing to share that vulnerability with the people around you.
Read A Self-care Book
Space yourself from the pandemic news. When I was trying to prevent a downward spiral back in 2017, I started reading a book called 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do and it was one of the best resources I've ever had. I read it like I was back in college, underlining words of wisdom and taking the quizzes to understand my weaknesses and how I could turn them around. Currently, I am reading The Wisdom Of No Escape by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. Ironically, I was drawn to this book weeks ago, not knowing I would be quarantined with a 6-year-old and 5-year-old who would need to be homeschooled while I ran my public relations agency. Needless to say, I have definitely been meditating with my children every morning and reminding myself to find the joy in the little things these days to keep us all sane!
Know When To Ask For Help
It is okay to be vulnerable at times and ask for help or even just tell people that you are at your lowest low. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of strength when you are willing to share that vulnerability with the people around you. For a long time, I never wanted any help from anyone. But a few years ago I realized just how bad of an idea that was. Now, by letting people in, sharing my struggles, and asking friends and family for support, I have become a much stronger person — a better leader, mother, friend, and wife.
Laugh And Have Fun
My kids constantly remind me that I could learn to have a little more fun in life. We all know laughing is good for the soul. Stream your favorite comedy, catch up on some movies, watch ridiculous viral videos on social media. Watch this video of a fun-loving citizen in Spain on lockdown leaving his house in a T-Rex costume. (Seriously, it's the laugh we all need right now!) I love playing dress-up with different colored wigs and have gotten my kids involved now too, which helps make an ordinary day stuck at home extraordinary and full of giggles.
This article was originally published March 19, 2020.
WRITTEN BYNubia DuVall Wilson