5 top tips to avoid overwhelm right now

Things are tough. We are worried, scared and everything in between.

Emotions are high. We see the shops being stripped of essentials and wonder if we have enough … we see others out enjoying the sunshine, when we’ve been advised to stay home.

What gives?

Until you go through something, it is human nature to think ‘that will never happen to me’. This hit home a few years ago when a close friend came to me and apologised. She apologised for never really ‘getting’ me when I was depressed. You see, she was severely depressed and couldn’t climb out of that dark hole. She finally understood where I was coming from, why I was on self destruct and why, no matter what she said to me, it never made me feel better when I was ill. She was sorry she hadn’t been more patient with me. That she had never truly understood what ‘it’ was like and admitted at my darkest times, she just went through the motions as my friend.

I got it. She was looking for forgiveness, which I gladly gave and she was looking for help which I also provided in abundance. It helped … for a while. But that’s a story for another time.

This thing however. This virus. We view it from a distance. Like war zones in far away places, it feels more like a movie than real life. It will never happen to us. It isn’t that bad here so we can carry on as we are. ‘Do you know anyone that has died from it? I don’t either … we’ll be fine’.

But we don’t know that. Not for certain. And taking risks in the way many are is foolish. But we can’t control others actions, so what do we do? We get angry. We take pictures of those we feel are acting unfairly and socially shame them. We speak to others that are angry too and that feeling gets stronger … we actively look for others who are disregarding the guidelines. Who are blatantly refusing to keep our communities safe. And that anger rolls over us in waves, like a tsunami of terror, we worry how we will cope. Our blood pressure increases. Our outlook on most things becomes so negative, we’re not sure when we’ll be able to ever feel good again. We get overwhelmed, scared, petrified. And it’s all their fault. Those that are flaunting the rules. That are doing everything wrong.

Wait. Just reverse a bit. Please?

We can’t control others actions. Read that again. We can NOT control others actions! So instead of getting angry, what about looking into ourselves? Concentrate on what we are doing right. Take our focus off the negative and keep it solely on the positive. Would that feel better do you think? I think it very much would. And that’s the first tip in avoiding overwhelm right now:

  1. Think about what you can control and run with it. You can control what you do to help you, your family and those around you stay safe. You can control how much exposure you allow yourself to have to negative and worrying news. Yes, stay up to date. But don’t immerse yourself in it completely.
  2. Work out what triggers you to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. If it’s too much social media, reduce it. If it’s concern about food running out (which it won’t), check what you actually have in and write down a meal plan. This will give you a fuller picture of what you actually have over the next few days and can make arrangements to get more. Plus planning these meals gives you that sense of control that may be lacking.
  3. Remember you are not alone in this. There are community groups on social media helping thousands right now. They want to help us feel less isolated, even if we are self isolating. I truly think there will be a huge social change when this is all over and I embrace it. Reach out to those groups. You will not be the only one worried, but they can reassure you and make you feel much less alone. Never be scared to ask for help.
  4. Our priorities have hugely changed over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so. Be open to adjusting those priorities, they can not be set in stone when there is so much unknown just now. We still need to prioritise what we have to do, but be kind to yourself if things don’t quite go to plan.
  5. Be compassionate. To yourself and others, especially now. We never know what happens behind closed doors and with most of us being forced to stay indoors right now, others may find this much more difficult than some, for many different reasons. Be patient, be understanding and most of all, be kind. To yourself, as well as others.

I hope this helps.

Stay safe, P x

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