Keeping calm in uncertain times
From time to time this current situation – our Coronavirus quarantine – gets to me. I go along having ok days, doing my therapy online, living my life, being with my family, but then, suddenly, in the midst of being ok, I’m NOT ok.
I seldom know why this happens, it just does. Maybe that happens to you, too.
I’ve found some things that seem to help.
Here are some ideas:
Take a breath. We do this cognitive behavioral intervention in therapy sometimes, but it’s very helpful to relax and focus on your breathing. You can do this in many ways. One is to breathe in and out to a count – counting 1-2-3-4-5 breathing in and then the same holding it, and the same breathing out. Or you can simply concentrate on breathing into your stomach instead of your chest – diaphragmatic breathing it’s called. There are many ways of focusing on your breathing, but all are helpful to help center yourself.
Practice prayer or meditation. Personally, I find prayer to be the most helpful thing I can do. Spending time with God always helps me ramp down if I’m upset or stressed. Getting a different – and much broader – perspective helps me understand the truth of whatever I’m dealing with. If you don’t have the habit of prayer or meditation (and yes, you could do both!), it’s a good time to develop it.
Mindfulness is also helpful. I know this can be a catch phrase today, but it is still a helpful strategy. Often mindfulness is as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on all of your five senses – smell, hearing, sight, taste and touch. Really focus on each and try to center yourself in the current moment.
Think of something to celebrate. Would you like today to be your birthday? Why not? Bake a cake. Blow out candles. Celebrate you. Or do this for one of your kids, your spouse, your parent. What else could you do to make this day special? Do that.
Figure out what things are important but being drowned out by today’s chatter and stress. When we lose focus and perspective, we get distracted by things that aren’t good for us. Is there something you can cut out or limit that’s causing your lack of calm? Carefully – prayerfully if you’ve a mind to do it – consider what voices you really don’t need right now, and eliminate them.
Become childlike for a little while. See the wonder. Be carefree. Do something that’s not adult – color, draw, sing. Just be creative. Take a bubble bath. Do something that you find frivolous in your regular life.
Another therapy intervention is what I call “safe place.” Think of a place you feel completely calm and at ease. In your mind, visit that place, and consider all your senses there – again, touch, taste, smell, feel, see. For me, that place is the beach on the bayside of Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, close to my hometown. I can hear the gulls and the lighthouse, smell and taste the salt air, feel the coarse sand and see the beach and seascape. It calms me down every time. Occasionally I feel Jesus sitting next to me there. It’s an amazing calming practice. Try to find YOUR place … a place you feel at home and relaxed. It’s worth it.
If you can’t find calm, give us a call. We have many more ideas that might work for you, and we care about helping you find peace in these troubled times.
We help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling