How do you cope with a loss of control?
We are in the midst of a time that has us feeling a loss of control over so many things – our social interactions, our ability to travel, our health… We can focus on the things we can no longer grasp – the result of which will be a sense of powerlessness and despair. Or we can focus on the things we do have control over – the result of which will help us feel empowered and in-charge. I want to share how I took control over each of the elements listed in my latest Instagram Post. Finding control during uncertain times can feel like a challenge. I hope sharing my tools helps you.
I’ve tried to maintain a positive attitude through most of this. I better be able to take my own advice after all… But like all of you, there are moments when negative thoughts take hold. Am I ever going to travel again? When can I satisfy my craving for my favorite bruschetta at my favorite Italian restaurant? People are dying! Why haven’t they found a cure?! Thoughts like these can lead us into a spiral of negative emotions. I find that reframing my negative thoughts helps keep my outlook bright. I change thoughts such at these to, I might not be able to travel, but I can take a long drive and explore a natural area outside of Houston that I haven’t seen before. I’ve learned to make some nonna-worthy homemade pizzas during quarantine. I hope that attempts to expedite the creation of cures and vaccines will lead to more efficient protocols in medical science moving forward.
I’ve certainly had days when feelings of frustration and hopelessness try to creep in. The first thing I do on those days is get some fresh air. I find that stepping outside and focusing on the warmth of the sun or smelling the jasmine that’s blooming all over Houston helps my nervous system reset. When my nervous system resets, the emotions lose their overwhelming power. I also try to write about what I’m feeling. As a therapist, I am a huge proponent of journal writing. Did you know that putting pen to paper uses a different part of the brain than typing? Writing a couple sentences about your emotions pull them out of that “stuck” place they like to hang out in the body.
There has been tremendous loss. So much has had to go on hold. It’s easy to focus on the things that make us feel like we are failing. But let’s simply stop using that word, fail, okay? Try to focus on what you’ve gained and what you’ve learned through this process. For example, I am cherishing the extra time with my daughter and husband. Extended periods of time with them have completely deepened our bond. I count this not just as a small victory, but as a huge win. It’s incredibly frustrating that the big plans I had for my business have taken a back seat, but I try not to focus on that.
At the beginning of this, I had the news on 24 hours a day. I was a part of multiple group chats. I noticed that exchanging the latest news articles quickly became the sole focus on the texts coming through. It was overwhelming! Even the funny memes mixed in still served as a reminder of what we are all facing. I simply made a decision to limit my news intake. I decided that 15-20 minutes of my favorite morning show while enjoying my coffee in the morning was all I needed to get the highlights of the day’s news. One group of friends and I made a pact to talk about anything except coronavirus during our weekly Zoom Meetings. The fact is, 24-hour news keeps us stimulated – and not in a healthy way. Limiting your intake is one of the most effective ways to keep yourself calm.
Does this give you some ideas for finding control during uncertain times? Comment below and tell me what’s worked for you.