I had a lovely, albeit socially distant, conversation with my soon to be thirty-year-old daughter yesterday. Her on the front lawn, me on the porch. She was telling me how emotional she has been feeling since we have been sheltering in place. She was sad because her wedding has been postponed. She shared that some days she felt energetic and other days tired, lethargic and unfocused. Sometimes she felt happy and hopeful, other times sad and anxious. Sometimes, she shared, she felt all of these things in the course of one day.
I shared with my daughter the same thing I have been telling my clients. It is normal to feel this way right now. It is normal to feel a range of emotions during the course of one day… or even one hour. It Is also normal to feel unfocused. When we are faced with extreme stress or trauma, our brain reacts in ways that protect us from real or perceived harm. Within this response, we may feel unfocused or disconnected. Now, more than ever, it is important to listen to the body’s response and what it might be asking for.
If you are feeling sad: grieve. Both individually and collectively we are feeling the loss of so many things right now: our ability to socialize, hug a loved one, even our sense of safety. (It was ever so hard not to reach out and give my daughter a reassuring mom hug!) Acknowledging sadness allows us to let it pass through so we can move forward.
If you are feeling happy: smile, dance, sing! If you have young children, dance with them. Contact a friend and give them a smile. It’s okay to feel happy during a stressful time. It gives us and others reassurance and hope.
If you are feeling anxious ask yourself this one simple question: How can I care for myself in the moment? A walk around the block? A hot bath? Journaling? Playing some soothing music? Reach out to a loved one or friend? And if you continue to feel anxious, please think about limiting the time you listen to the news or spend on social media. There is constant information streaming that can quickly become overload if we’re not careful.
If you are feeling energetic, go for it! There are all kinds of ideas floating around on social media about how to spend your time, but I encourage you to pick something enjoyable and fun. You don’t have to utilize this time to learn a new language, scrub the baseboards or Kondo the clutter. Unless you feel like it. If you are feeling energetic, do something that you feel inspired to do.
Really all I want to do is to reassure you that all those emotions you may, or may not be, feeling are normal! Most of us do not go through an unprecedented stressful time without some strong feelings. Our emotions are there not to frighten us, but to encourage us to look within, deep within, and discover what we really and truly need at any given time. Maybe you cannot stop in the moment and journal, or take a walk, but you can schedule time in your planner to do something that makes your heart sing and mends your spirit.
Sending everyone love and light!
If you are experiencing overwhelming thoughts of self-harm, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming another, please don’t hesitate. Get help. Call 911 or Marin County Psychiatric Emergency Services at 415-473-6666. Karen Morelli, LMFT CA License #108741