We are experiencing an unprecedented global health crisis. In a world that feels largely out of control, what can we do to stay calm while facing so much uncertainty? 

First and foremost, we must recognize that we are human and it is a normal human reaction to feel anxious and worried at a time like this. Whatever your style of coping, recognize that you are doing the best you can in a difficult situation. That being said, the following are a few grounding techniques you may also find helpful.  

1. Challenge negative thinking:

Our interpretation of a situation will create our experience of that situation. The reasons we are socially distancing are serious and scary, however, the experience of social distancing doesn’t have to be. Reframe this experience by giving yourself permission to enjoy this mandatory time out. Experience being at home, spend more time with family, brainstorm creative ways to connect with others without physically meeting up.  We have the option to view this situation as a crisis as well as an opportunity. I would offer that most situations in life can be viewed, and treated, as both. 

2. Be mindful of your focus: 

Is a global pandemic terrifying? Yes. 

Is the divinely inspired human race amazing and resilient and brilliant when we work together for a common goal? Also, yes. 

As quickly as a crisis can manifest, it can also resolve. When our minds drift to worry about the future and the safety of our loved ones, we can affirm that there are brilliant minds around the world pooling their talents, skills, training, and abilities to identify a solution to this problem. By working together, we can and will overcome this problem.  

3. Ask, what’s in my control? 

We have been given a mission: practice social distancing. Limit non-essential travel. Work from home if we can. Wash our hands. Self-isolate if we experience symptoms of illness. These are the things we can control. Just as we can remind ourselves that a solution is on it’s way to us, we can also remind ourselves that, by doing our part, we are helping to bring that solution more quickly into reality. We must focus on what we can control, and then commit to doing it. We move forward with faith that the rest, which is not in our control, is also in progress by others who are capable and inspired to solve this problem.

Denying difficult emotions does not prevent us from having them. Doing so, we bottle them up, stuff them down, and let them accumulate until they erupt in unhealthy ways and at inopportune times. Grounding is a skill that becomes stronger with practice. It begins when we give ourselves space and grace to feel difficult emotions. It works by challenging our unproductive, negative thoughts and reframing them with more helpful, productive thoughts instead. What we focus on increases so let’s make sure we are focusing on the magic that is possible versus the fear that it’s not.

If you are experiencing increased anxiety during this difficult time, please visit our website at www.GoodMentalHealthLLC.com for access to relevant blog posts, local resources, or to schedule an appointment. For the safety of our community, all upcoming appointments will take place by phone or online via video chat. 

This article appeared in the April 2020 issue of St. Johns Magazine

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