This year, we spent our Thanksgiving limiting where we went, as many of you have I’m sure! Since the weather was nice in our area, my mom invited us up to eat with them, which was a safe invitation because they have gone to EXTREMES in safeguarding against Covid as my step-father has several issues that could make contracting Covid a life-threatening situation. I felt a little silly walking through the woods to their back porch, but on the upside- I got to wear pajamas since no one else was there!
We had a great time! I felt like we should’ve tipped my mom because we weren’t allowed in the house and had a separate table from them, so she was constantly catering to our whims. We also briefly visited my husband’s family and dropped off some food to his dad that his sister-in-law had made. It was disheartening sitting food on their porch, backing away, and speaking briefly before leaving. In all, this Thanksgiving has looked so incredibly different as we go into this second wave of fear and social isolation. You feel it too, I bet. That feeling like something is off, but you can’t quite identify it. Let’s look at a mental health perspective!
Covid is something that’s completely out of our control. We are living in a society that is trying desperately to control and understand something that is totally complicated. Wear masks! Wait, they don’t help. Or do they? No more than ____ people together in a gathering! Wash your hands frequently. These are things within our control that we can do to help us feel some sort of control in a chaotic world, but I think we feel off because we know deep down that ultimately, we can’t control it. For those of us with anxiety, lack of control and the unexpected are two HUGE stressors. What if… What if… What if… Our amygdala prepares us for the worst case scenario because if we prepare for the worst, then we’re basically good to go on all the other possibilities! <Side note: If amygdala-based anxiety is relatable to you or someone you know, check out a 25 minute class on it HERE.> In essence, what I’m saying that those hard-to-explain feelings you’re having, that irritability that just wasn’t there before the world froze (or wasn’t as bad), that jittery feeling inside your body… all that and more are normal given our current environment. You are not broken or weird or defective. You, like many, are going through A LOT.
So what do we do about it? I’m a firm believer in learning to face the elephant in the room. Look at your emotions; figure out where they’re stemming from. Do you need to go on a journey to accept the uncontrollable? Are you trapped in a constant cycle of negativity? Are the realities of working from home getting to you? Look at the source because your action plan is going to depend on what is at your core.
My strategy thus far is accepting what is. Accepting I have these negative feelings and acknowledging them- giving them space and journaling them out (aka looking at the elephant). I also choose to focus on the positive. There are so many negatives in this season, but I choose good. I choose peace. I choose good things for my mind with positive expectations and a solid awareness that we can handle whatever bad life throws our way. I refuse to allow myself to get trapped into the negative too long. Hopefully this will help you. If not, please seek out someone safe to confide in whether that’s a trusted friend, family member, or counselor. As always, Anchoring Hope Counseling is here to assist as well. Take care and stay safe out there!