Control what you put in your brain
I’m tired of hearing about the coronavirus. But at the same time, I want and need to stay apprised of what’s happening. Things are changing very quickly, almost hourly, and it’s tempting to keep the TV on just to stay “in the know“. But here’s the thing: staying glued to news programs can overwhelm you, release stress hormones, cause insomnia, worry and unnecessary anxiety.I
I’m not saying don’t watch the news, but know when to turn it off or temporarily disengage. Events are unfolding at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up. Immersing yourself in the negativity without taking breaks for helpful and healing activities will affect your thoughts and your body negatively.
I experienced this myself last Tuesday. Until then, I thought I was handling the unfolding events very well. But quite unexpectedly, I had a surge of overwhelming feelings and I found myself crying with no real “reason“ for it. I felt like I just couldn’t handle another piece of information. It felt good to cry, and, I suggest that you do some crying too. Crying is like a pressure valve. It lets out the feelings we’ve been holding inside while trying to stay strong. But we’re strong even when we cry. I think it’s a smart healing-thing to do, and we feel more clearheaded, grounded and calm when we’re finished.
We ‘re all experiencing traumatic events right now. We may be overwhelmed with information coming through the radio, TV, friends, family, neighbors, or social media. We may not know what to think or what to do. We may become hyper-vigilant, trying to keep up, putting our flight or fight survival mode into overdrive. This means dealing with an excess of hormones like cortisol, (which can cause, among other things, slower healing, weakness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and headaches) and adrenaline (which among other things, increases heart rate and blood pressure). It also means that our hippocampus and amygdalae won’t be able to store short term memories properly, and you may find yourself feeling scatterbrained.
What you can do
Take frequent breaks from the input. Taking breaks can also feel overwhelming and traumatizing at first. It’s important to know that if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, feeling stressed or anxious, you should turn off the media and do something healing for yourself. Take a bath or a shower, clean a room, rearrange your pantry, clean out a drawer, take inventory of your supplies, journal, reach out to a friend; anything that will make you feel better and serve as a distraction from the situation. Think of all the things you can do to make you feel better and use that list over the next several weeks.
Think back to a time when you felt overwhelmed and life was uncertain, and you got through it. Remind yourself that you coped then, and you will this time, too. Focus less on the changes and uncertainty and instead focus on centering, grounding and calming yourself. Go back to watching the news when you feel you can handle it. Watch in short doses, taking short breaks in between.
If you’re stuck at home, use this new gift of time to do the things you’ve been putting off. Get started writing that book, read to your kids, organize your digital photos, organize a closet. You get the idea. Think of the things you’ve been wanting to do and wishing you had the time to do, then start doing them. It’s amazing what getting into the “flow“ does to make you feel accomplished.
Connect with people using social media. See if you have “Nextdoor.com” for your neighborhood and connect electronically with your neighbors. You can share information about stores and product availability, other resources, and important information.
Check-in on elderly loved ones and elderly neighbors. Help whoever you can.
Read uplifting material whether it’s spiritual text, poetry, or old love letters. Watch comedies. Read that book you’ve been wanting to read!
Journal! Not only will writing get worries off your mind, but it could be a keepsake for your children later on; a historical record of what’s happening and your thoughts and feelings about it.
Do something physically challenging for stress relief. Jog in place, or pull out one of those old exercise videos and have at it. Make a game of it with your kids. Movement feels good and releases endorphins and other calming hormones. So does guided meditation, yoga, and stretching. Do the things that help you feel grounded, like praying or gratitude exercises.
Control what you’re eating. Sugars and carbs cause inflammation, and inflammation lowers immunity.
Amp up your current healing journey: I’m releasing a special black-and-white printable PDF version of the Companion Healing Workbook for “Lemon Mom’s” this week instead of May as planned.
Look for it on DianeMetcalf.com.
The full-color, bound version will be available for purchase on Amazon when “Lemon Moms” is released this spring.
Although “Lemon Moms” has not been published yet, (we’re in the formatting and cover-design phase!) the companion workbook will take you through multiple healing activities that you can start even before reading the book.
Six things that keep your immunity high
- Eat healthy foods in moderation and take a daily multivitamin.
- Exercise for 30 minutes daily.
- Get enough sleep.
- Wash your hands.
- Minimize or stop alcohol consumption.
- Quit smoking. Now is a great time!
Make time for yourself
As we become accustomed to these new events and our new temporary lifestyle, put yourself on your own to-do list. Make yourself a priority too. Remember, airlines always tell us to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others. There’s a reason for that: you’re not going to be of any use to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Stay well, and, stay healthy my friends.
Conscious awareness: Be aware and make conscious choices before acting. Self-awareness releases us from making impulsive and potentially damaging decisions. Learn about setting boundaries
Self-care: We can only choose to focus on and be responsible for ourselves, our own thoughts, actions, and behavior. The good news is that we can change ourselves with patience, persistence, and practice. We can take responsibility for getting our needs met, instead of waiting for someone to change or meet our needs for us. We are in control of ourselves and no one is responsible for us but us.
Learn about codependency and maladaptive coping skills
Learn about C-PTSD
Recognize the Cycle of Abuse
Lemon Moms: Resources to guide you in healing from childhood trauma, abuse or neglect. Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. (Kindle, Audiobook and paperback format.)
About the author
Diane Metcalf earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1982 and a Master of Science in Information Technology in 2013.
She has held Social Worker, Counselor and Managerial Positions in the fields of Domestic Violence and Abuse, Geriatric Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Reproductive Health. She is an experienced Advocate and Speaker on the topics of Domestic Violence and Abuse and has been a guest on Lockport Community Television (LCTV), sharing her knowledge and experience regarding Domestic Abuse with the local community. In addition, she experienced Maternal Narcissistic Abuse and has been involved in other toxic relationships. She purposefully learned (and continues to learn) appropriate coping skills and strategies to live happily. She shares those insights here.
Her books and articles are the results of her education, knowledge, and personal insight regarding her own abusive experiences and subsequent recovery work. She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager or Advocate, nor is she or has she ever been a licensed psychologist.
Currently, Diane runs her own website design company, Image and Aspect, and writes articles and tutorials for Tips and Snips, her inspirational blog for creative people. She continues to learn and write about Emotional Healing.
This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.