I don’t know about you, but I have settled nicely into the safety of my own home during this quarantine. My two hairless cats are starting to understand what I’m saying to them and I’m finding time to focus on projects that would have continued to collect dust if not for this COVID-19 quarantine. Ok… I’m not sleeping so well. I think I am fine, but the truth is the anxiety is getting to me. I’m a mother of two ..human children and I worry about them. I have these dreadful images in my head with a scenario that starts with “what if..”. The words that can send me down a rabbit hole of images from the latest crime show I watched. How did mom’s do this before cell phones? I’m sharing this with you because I recently found out I’m not the only mother who experiences these crazy fears that turn into eerie images floating through my head. Imagine that?!? There are so many unknowns right now and while I’m calm, I mean, I feel calm, the unknowns and conspiracy theories are a lot. The facts are turning to fiction and it’s hard to decipher which opinion you believe to be true and what is pure smoke. There are so many things that are blowing up for my family… and when I say blowing up, I mean significant offputting events. Not convenient. at. all. A lot of what we are experiencing are fears and frustrations that can’t be addressed until businesses reopen. How do we deal with all of this?
Historically, I would go into multiple sleepless nights with stress-ridden events. There was no need for anyone to worry because I would worry for me and for everyone else. I researched the topic I was facing until I covered every detail inside and out. I’d drink my Cabernet Sauvignon, and blare the music into numbness. I would cry privately and eventually confide in a friend hoping for those magic words to come out of their mouth. It was 6 magic words that will have my heart at ease within a minute. Can you guess what those words are? “Quit your crying and get over it?” Nope. “You’re a strong person, you’ll be fine?” Not even close bud, right John Bender? (that’s a Breakfast Club quote for those of you non-Gen X’ers) In all seriousness, the magic words everyone wants to hear are:
“Everything is going to be ok”.
That’s it. It’s magic! I understand, no one can predict the future and no one wants to make false promises. However, these six, beautiful words are so incredibly powerful. When the mind is filled with anxiety and playing out a million different scenarios a day, everything is NOT ok. If an anxious friend trusts you enough to confide, please don’t try to fix their problems for them. We just want to be reassured. The world feels out of control and the worst feeling is that your life feels like it is in chaos and there’s nothing you can do about it. People need to feel heard. They need to be reassured that no matter what happens in life, we always land on our feet. No, we can’t always stop the intrusive thoughts, but it helps to have an empathetic ear who listens, offer suggestions (not advice) and reassure us that everything is going to be alright.
Somehow, someway we are going to get through this and hopefully, we won’t forget too quickly how we missed the simple freedoms like smiling at a person without wearing a mask or standing one foot behind someone rather than 6 feet at the grocery store. Enjoying simple outings like a date with your partner or friend for dinner and a movie. I miss this. I really hope we don’t go back to being those self-absorbed A-holes we used to be. Put your grocery cart back. Slow down and let the elderly person go in front of you at the checkout counter. Do anything to be kind, even giving a smile under your mask.
For me, honestly what has shifted over time is my ability to work through stress. While I still struggle at times, I’ve learned how to say those magic words to myself and to others. I say it whenever I recognize the panic in someone who is sharing their story with me. I practice being calm and say those words to myself. I see simple signs throughout the day (like a hummingbird at the window) that remind me to find the positive at that moment. I say affirmations to myself with these daily reminders and express my gratitude at least once a day. It takes a lot of practice, loads of therapy and a lot of self-healing. For everyone reading this, here it is. Everything is going to be ok.
I hope this helps.