Slow down the pace and enjoy the possibilities
Someone sent me a quote the other day about responding to the situations that we find ourselves in, and it went along the lines of; finding our power when we can choose the way we react to situations we aren’t in control of...
It seems this is relevant for us all now.
That we are all, pretty much, in a situation, in lockdown, in which we have had to give up a lot of the control we usually have in our everyday lives.
So, I wonder, how do we all react to that?
I’m not a big fan of reading newspapers and I certainly keep away from watching the news on the TV. Why? Because I find if I watch it, I get caught up in the drama of it all. I start to worry about the 'What ifs'.
I start to imagine the worst-case scenarios that might, could, will possibly happen and I notice my mood changes.
I lose my - most of the time - natural optimism and lightheartedness. And it seems to affect how I view the rest of my world, not just the parts linked to what’s happening in the news at that time. So I don’t like it. I make a choice not to feel that way. And sometimes, I’ve questioned whether that’s a bit irresponsible.
However, yesterday I bought a newspaper as I thought there were maybe some important things I would need to know about the situation we find ourselves in as a result of the COVID-19 virus. I'd like to tell you what I read:
One of the editors had written a piece on anxiety and feelings of panic; his own reaction to what is happening. And I felt sure that he must be surrounded by the news all the time and I couldn’t quite imagine what that must feel like.
Because, of course, we need to be informed, somehow or other, about what happens around us and working as a journalist or reporter, in fact, is admirable.
But I wonder how many of us feel anxious and feel panic when we hear too much news, or we listen to news that focuses on the negative things that are happening?
I think most of us will understand those feelings when we focus on negative or fearful thoughts. I’d like to come back to that idea of choosing now, how we react to being in lockdown, how we can maybe change our potential feelings of anxiety or panic during this time.
Focus on the positives
How about, simply, we focus on the positive?
We focus on the feeling that life seems to have slowed down a wee bit - at least for some of us. We focus on the fact that life feels quieter right now, with less traffic passing by. We focus on doing the things we are always saying that we will do, but never quite have the time for.
In any kind of therapy, it’s important that things are slowed down, because it gives us the chance to be aware. To be aware of our reactions. And as we become aware, we get to choose which things we want to change in the way we act and our behaviour patterns we want to change. Awareness is a big part of that change. And I think we all come to therapy because we want to change something. So slowing down the pace is important.
We have a chance to slow down our pace now, in our everyday lives. Let’s focus on that gift.
It sure can throw up challenges, however. Now we are pretty much stuck either with our own company or the company of family members we might not usually spend that much time with - and that can be tricky.
But what if we take these tricky moments, and let them pass, without rushing past them, and see what happens when we breathe slower, when we move slower, when we can only do a limited amount of things in the day because we can’t get out and rush around.
I’ve spoken to quite a few folks in the past week about lockdown; young people not at school now, older people not at work now, and the overall message seems to be - it’s not as bad as I thought. It’s much less stressful than having to go into school or go into work.
And whilst I know many, many people are still at work, and many people who are not at work may well be under new financial pressures, I’m hoping that this new situation we find ourselves in will open up new possibilities for us all.
So make a choice not to get too caught up in the negative thoughts around right now, make a choice to slow down the pace, and make choices to feel less anxious and feel less panic.
Make choices to look after yourself, and your loved ones.
Sometimes speaking to another person can help, such as a family member or friend. Alternatively, you can speak to a professional therapist online or over the phone. The main thing is to remember that feelings of anxiety and fear are normal - talk to someone to help calm your thoughts and reframe your perspective.