So here we are in the middle of the weirdest time that we are likely to experience during our lifetime.
You can’t expect to respond normally – maybe you’ve lost sleep, or slept at odd times of day, you’ve been watching too much terrifying news, feeling anxious and uncertain, behaved well out of character with family, lost your routine and struggled to find another that works. Have you been eating more, drinking more, got angry inappropriately, cried for no obvious reason? Yes, normal has disappeared and we are now in abnormal!
Except your reactions are not abnormal – they are a normal response to trauma. We are all traumatised by this; all in shock at the sudden changes in our lives.
Our brain reverts to primitive operating when exposed to unexpected threats – our lives and lifestyles are under threat. Our brains go foggy, we feel out of control, our emotions go crazy, we don’t recognise some of our reactions.
The primitive brain thinks we are about to be eaten by a predator, we are going to die, and we start taking all sorts of actions to preserve our life. We might run around behaving unusually, we might get aggressive with others, or we might hide away, avoiding contact with others, or give in to others’ opinions and do what they say – the fight, flight, freeze or fawn responses to trauma.
And because we are all in the same boat, we are all anxious, and that is very contagious.
What to do
Understand that your reactions can be no other way – the primitive brain takes over in these circumstances, accept that.
Breathe – deeply. Take at least 6 deep breaths that make your tummy rise and fall – it’s the BEST way to reduce anxiety.
Ground your energy – there are plenty of exercises to help you do this on my website.
Talk to people, pick up the phone, use Zoom – connect with friends, family every day. Tell them how you are feeling, listen to how they’re feeling. Be tolerant and kind, send them a virtual hug.
Escape some of the time – limit the amount of news you watch daily, and watch good movies, listen to a radio play, read that book you’ve been meaning to get to
Get creative – in the garden, clear out that cupboard, re-arrange the furniture, cook
Meditate if you enjoy this – gardening or walking in silence can be a meditation. You don’t have to sit cross-legged!
Be aware of your coping habits – drinking, eating too much, taking drugs etc. Limit this and occupy yourself with something else. Don’t beat yourself up though if you do slip – be kind to yourself
And, be kind to others. We are all going through this and all responding in our own ways.
Linda Bishopp MA, DMS, Dip Couns, Reg BACP, MTHF.