These are uncertain times and they are frightening. Every day we consume news that a potentially-fatal pandemic is sweeping across new territory. You and everyone you know are being asked to do things differently, with the realistic threat of dire consequences. You have no other sources by which to judge how seriously to take this news. Has the whole world gone mad, or is the virus really crawling straight toward you and your loved ones?
When anxiety mounts, we seek certainty and control. Regardless of whether the subject of our anxiety is realistic or unrealistic, we want to know things for sure and we want to make sure the outcome we fear happening does not happen.
When it comes to maintaining mental health, reality matters. One individual’s perception is the reality by which they live and make decisions and interact with others. When one’s perception veers far from objective reality, it can happen that decisions and interactions become problematic in such a way that they cause damage which later needs to be undone. But what happens when we cannot know some things for certain, and the outcome of our experiences lies outside of our direct control?
In uncertain times, we have more limited choices, but the choices we do have include the following:
Acknowledge that you may have unmet needs in the moment. It is okay for many needs to go unmet, so long as you are making the effort to hit the basics.
Believe you and others are doing the best they possibly can. Social distancing prevents us from walking a mile in one another’s moccasins, as the saying goes. We know even less about the plight of others right now.
Commit to self-care in balance with care for others. Compassion is wonderful, but useless if it is not self-applied because it can quickly lead to burn-out.
Deliver only what will build yourself and others up. This isn’t about blind positivity; it is about reaching the next step of offering solutions after offering criticisms.
Elevate your words and thoughts above your circumstances. Circumstances change, but making broad negative characterizations about people - including yourself - creates a hefty burden to carry indefinitely.
Forgive yourself and others for expressing humanity. We are human, and thus we are flawed. Think about the “perfect” people you have met - were you fond of them? Don’t strive for perfection, it will only further isolate you.
If you are struggling with uncomfortable levels of anxiety in these uncertain times, please feel free to reach out. Equip Counseling is maintaining quarantine through the use of secure, video-conferenced telehealth visits.