In a time of high stress, many Americans are dealing with feeling confused and powerless. New Jersey-based therapist, educator and life coach Diane Lang offers readers her tips below on letting go and coping with a crisis:
“1. Let Go – I know this sounds funny, but when we have no control, the only control we can find is to make the decision to let go and accept our current reality as is. This doesn’t mean giving up. It means accepting where you are at this moment. Remember, letting go and accepting are a conscious choice. Truly accepting means releasing the resistance. Resistance = stress. When we hold on to the stress, we get stuck in the negativity and become paralyzed by fear, so instead let’s accept.
2. Can and Can’t Control – This is when we look at the actions we are taking and ask, do we have control over them? For example, I have no control over the virus, physical distancing/isolation or working from home. I do have control of how I spend my time at home and what my morning routine looks like. You can’t control the external, what’s going on around you. You can control the internal: how you perceive the situation, what information you take in on a daily basis and being grateful. You can control how much time you spend on social media, how much TV/news you watch and what you do with your free time. Remember – we don’t have any control over others. It’s also not your job or responsibility to solve anyone’s problems or make them happy. We can try to help or give advice, but everyone is ultimately in control of their own life.
3. We Have the Ability to De-Stress – This is a time you look through your emotional toolbox and pick the tools that work best for you. Your emotional toolbox should be filled with a variety of different mindfulness techniques such as exercise, walking, sitting in nature, yoga, journal writing, deep breathing, music or maybe a hot bath. Which tools help you self-soothe? Which calm you and help you feel good? Which clear your mind and bring you to the here-and-now? We feel our best when we are in the moment.
4. Daily Routine – Figure out what gives you a sense of normalcy. It could be as simple as a morning routine that includes making your bed, taking a shower and getting out of your pajamas. It could be spending 15 minutes outside. It could be taking a walk every day. Figure out what works for you. What things are you doing that are making you feel worse? Are you watching too much news? Binge-watching shows all day and not doing anything productive or creative? Are you eating unhealthy? Isolating in your house? Too much alcohol? Caffeine or sugar? Pay attention to the unhealthy ways we try to cope.
5. Basic Needs – Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Drinking plenty of water? Eating healthy? Exercising? Meditating?
6. Support System – Know who is your support system, people who you love and who love you unconditionally. People you feel comfortable talking with. Pay attention to your conversations, don’t let them be a constant stream of negativity. Yes, right now things are tough, but stay focused on the big picture. This situation is temporary.
7. Resiliency – Look at all of the past trauma and tough situations you have been through. Write down the top 3 most difficult situations that you have dealt with. How did you face these situations? What coping skills did you use? Who was your support system? What made you feel better? Maybe it was problem-solving, talking it out, writing it out or doing research. Use your past situations as a reminder that you have survived challenging situations before and thrived. Use those coping skills/strategies that have worked for you.
8. Decision-Making – During this time of crisis, ask yourself this important question: Is my decision based on love or fear? When decisions are based on fear, they are decisions made impulsively: ego-based, not well thought-out and derived from feelings such as anger or hurt. Sometimes the best thing to do is not make any decisions until you accept where you are, let go of the stress/resistance and find clarity.”
For more on Diane, visit DLCounseling.com.
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