Whenever something bad happens in the world, my first reaction is “how can I help?” I tend to stay strong and feel better if I know how to help me and help someone else.
As I’ve watched fellow writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs share their advice, it somewhat raised my anxiety. More things that I need to do? How else am I failing during this unforeseen moment? I was flailing and failing. I’m better now, but I get it if you’re tired of “put a smile on” advice.
I understand that advice is not always wanted or asked for. That’s why I recommend reading this post if you need it and if you’re ready for it. Take the time you need to get your bearings to avoid “analysis paralysis.”
If you need help, support, and motivation now, please read these tips on how to stay strong when things just plain suck. Hopefully, they help.
1. Practice Daily Self-Compassion
Maybe take a moment or a break to talk to yourself. I’ve heard it described as imagining you can sit next to yourself. Imagine you can put an arm around your shoulders and tell yourself, “I’m here—what do you need?” Try to determine what you need right at this moment to soothe and support yourself. I set an alarm so I don’t forget.
2. Solve a Tiny Problem
In uncertain times, anxiety can shoot through the roof. For me, I feel like my to-do list grows an extra mile as I feel overwhelmed with everything I need to do. If it helps your anxiety, try to solve just one small problem—any problem. Use this as a reminder that when you feel paralyzed, you are capable of acting, making decisions, and keeping your cool.
3. Get Grounded in Your Principles
We all have some kind of “why.” What are your top priorities? Why do you work full-time? Why did you achieve higher education? What is at the core of everything you do? Maybe it’s time to refocus on what matters most (TO YOU) so the next steps you take have the long-game in mind rather than give in to short-term fears.
4. Let Yourself Feel All Your Emotions
We don’t want to feel negative emotions because they’re uncomfortable. Personally, I hate it when I cry because it’s hard to control. But all feelings tell us something. Generally, when a baby cries, we seek to soothe the baby rather than ignore it. At this moment, give yourself the same grace to determine what your tears, grief, or anger is telling you. Just like an infant, you likely have basic needs that need to be met.
5. Gather Your Resources & Allies
If you feel lonely or defenseless, now is the time to take stock in what you do have. Whatever you’ve broken, you can rebuild. Whatever has been taken from you can be earned back. Look around and acknowledge your resources. If you feel guilty for not being immediately grateful, that’s okay. Punishing yourself over guilt or shame will not help you feel better.
6. Maintain Some Amount of Normalcy
A lot of things will change your routine. An easy way to stay strong is to maintain some level of normalcy. Try to maintain the same sleeping schedule, eat familiar foods, or maintain regular daily habits. It’s easy to feel out of control when you’re hit with a huge bombshell. Some semblance of normalcy will help you feel like not everything is different for the worse.
7. Give Yourself Ample Time
During week one of social distancing, I was anxious. I wanted to use my time wisely and take advantage of my new routine. But I’m not built to pivot that quickly or expertly. You and I need time to adjust to a new reality, and that’s okay. It’s normal and okay to need time to register what is happening and how you want to react. Give yourself all the time you need.
8. Remain Adequately Informed
When things get bad or scary, it’s easy to overly-research or over-analyze the situation. Instead, allow your research to encourage you to make good choices rather than be fearful of the future. Take a break from the news if it’s doing more harm than good. You can review these tips for how to learn what’s true and avoid fear-mongering articles.
These tips are more than plenty, right? I made an easy checklist that you can keep if you need a reminder. Let me know if you like it! In the meantime, I know you’re doing your best to stay strong and get through this. We’ll all get through this, even if it’s less than perfect.