Finding Peace Amidst Challenge and Uncertainty
By Rachel Grossman, LMSW
We are all experiencing many different emotions right now.
There are moments where it might feel cozy to be at home enjoying the slower pace, and moments where we experience fear and uncertainty. Perhaps we feel as if we’re losing our minds, feeling overwhelmed by all the things we want to accomplish or struggling with boredom. Confined by our surroundings, we might feel like we want to yell at the people around us, or silently at ourselves.
An additional layer of suffering arises from the constriction that we find ourselves in when we are feeling these emotions. Self-judgment becomes a prominent voice in our heads. We judge ourselves for feeling frustrated because ‘other people have it worse than I do, so who am I to complain?’ Or perhaps we judge ourselves for feeling jealous of the people who have second homes to escape to because ‘I should be happy with what I have’. We judge ourselves for raising our voices at family members or for having difficulty focusing at work. There always seems to be an endless list of things for which we can judge ourselves.
What can help to quiet the voice of judgment and create that space of peace inside of ourselves? Giving ourselves permission to feel whatever we’re feeling, and practicing being extremely kind and compassionate to ourselves throughout whatever it is we’re going through. For example, if you are feeling fear, try telling yourself lovingly: ‘of course I’m feeling afraid, things are really hard right now’. Just giving that gift of kindness to yourself can relieve some of the suffering.
Despite not being able to control the effects that the Coronavirus is having on our lives right now, we CAN control how we respond to it and how it affects our inner peace. Here are some tips to help you find some P.E.A.C.E. during these challenging times:
Take a deep breath. Now do it again. Whatever you’re feeling right now is ok. No judgment. No self-hate, no expectations. Maybe you’re feeling really anxious. That’s ok. It’s also ok if you’re not. Everyone’s response to stressful times is different and there is NO right way to feel.
What’s happening right now is happening. It is what it is. Resisting won’t make it go away. Embracing gives you the power to control your responses, by taking you out of the fight-flight-freeze mode and allowing you to take a proactive approach to feeling better.
Once you have taken a deep breath and have embraced that these circumstances are your new reality, it’s time to act. Make a cup of tea. Take a walk, dance in your kitchen, or do some yoga. Crack open a new book, or revisit an old one. Practice some meditation for a whole minute, or a whole hour. Taking positive action helps to shift our focus from what we can’t control to what we can. Action keeps us from getting stuck or overwhelmed emotionally by putting us back in the driver’s seat.
Even if you don’t feel particularly creative, studies have shown that creativity can lead to benefits such as, improved mood, lower levels of anxiety, sharper cognition, and even a healthier immune system. So pull out that puzzle, or paint, or scrap book. Pick up journaling, write a letter, or some poetry. Try to have fun with it! Nothing you create has to be good, it just has to BE.
Yes, enjoy. Let yourself really experience this moment you are in. Notice your senses: tastes, sensations, sights, sounds, and smells. Light a candle or some incense. Put on your favorite sweatshirt or your favorite show. Indulge in a bubble bath, or a tasty meal. Enjoy the gift of slowing down.
Wishing you peace and comfort during these challenging and uncertain times.