Feel Your Feelings and Other Tips for Staying Grounded & Sane While in Lockdown
Because right now, we gotta do what we gotta do to get through the other side of this — safe, healthy, and sane.
Let’s not mince words, y’all: Things are not how they normally are in the world, and we’re all going to be reeling from the impact for a while to come. It’s been a difficult time for all of us in different ways, and we’re all having to make some pretty drastic changes to how we live our lives in order to ensure that we can get things back under control as soon as we can. It goes without saying that this is likely a very different type of stress and pressure than we’re used to, so it’s important to have a set of reliable tools to fall back on to keep yourself aware of whatever issue you may be dealing with while maintaining some stability.
I almost think of it like having a “homebase” to come back to once I’ve dealt with the situation(s) at hand. It’s not about being happy or just somehow “pushing through” things. It’s about giving yourself a sense of safety so that you can allow yourself to feel however you feel, process negative emotions, and bring yourself back to a neutral baseline so that you can deal with the next bump in the road and be in a place to laugh at a funny meme on Twitter along the way.
Don’t try and just “be happy”
I know a lot of people in our circles are trying their best to instill positivity into our lives, especially during times like this. But as an adult, one thing I’ve totally rejected is the idea that you should just “not focus on the bad stuff” and/or just “try to be happy” because “X” group of people in a different place or time had it “way worse” than you do right now. While I acknowledge those differences to best understand my place in the grand scheme of things, that does not mean what I’m currently experiencing is not valid.
Of course, if you struggle with mental health challenges, for example depression or anxiety, I can give no medical, professional advice; that’s for people way more qualified than me who have studied far beyond a bachelor’s degree in psychology. That being said, if you need to be sad, angry, upset, or whatever the case may be, I think setting aside some time to feel these things and process them in a nondestructive manner is absolutely necessary. Many people have tried to, both intentionally and unintentionally, guilt me out of feeling these emotions, but I refuse to feel bad about feeling bad. Pushing these things down really only stores them for later to all bust out in a torrential downpour. I’ll take my bits of rain as they come and dry myself off in between storms rather than being swept away by a flood.
It’s impossible to set a time limit on these things, especially when you’re feeling more intense emotions like grief, but I try and gauge the situation and give myself permission to fully feel the difficult emotions for a time, and then check in with myself to see if I can pick myself up a bit to start moving forward again. Give yourself a weekend to process whatever is happening, and just sit and watch your Netflix, eat your snacks, take a break from working out, whatever it is that you need. Don’t feel bad you’re doing it, don’t feel guilty because you should be working on the next step, just fully sit in the sadness or whatever it is for a short period of time. I find when I do this, after the weekend or the day that I give myself has passed, it’s much easier to start getting my gears turning again and getting back to taking care of myself and those around me.
Set firm boundaries
The internet, as great as it is, can turn into an endless pool of information that can quickly make you feel hopeless or that there’s simply too much going on and put you in a place where nothing you do is going to be enough. My advice is very simple: Get the hell off Twitter. Turn off the news. Do not check your Facebook. Just don’t do it. There’s a fine line between staying informed and overloading your brain. It almost feels like a reconnaissance mission in a spy movie for me during these times: get in, get the necessary information you need, and then get out as quickly as possible.
Again, I’ve had much personal experience with people trying to make me feel guilty for not feeling as informed as they feel I should be or hit me with the “how can you not know that” line that’s usually coupled with some comment about people of my age/generation being ignorant. I think what’s ignorant is assuming you can have a 24/7 news cycle dumping information on you that’s very rarely uplifting and coming out the other end feeling great.
I think any of us who went to school and especially those who had the chance to attend a college are all very used to diving into a pool of info, picking out the important bits that you need, and leaving the rest behind. Those endless essays and research projects on random topics were not for nothing. Use those skills and get what you need from the news/media, and then go back to your life. You’re not doing anything wrong and you’re not burying your head in the sand. You’re being smart about your media engagement and are getting exactly what you need.
Maintain your habits
Even if the world feels like it’s crashing down around you and there seems like a million things you should be doing instead, do not feel like everything you normally would be doing is somehow now a pointless activity. There’s no doubt that you will be required to shift and make changes, both drastic and small, when circumstances change (like isolating yourself inside your home, lol), but still try and do your best to keep important bits of your normal rhythm.
Now, as I’ve stated before, others have attempted to make me feel guilty about some of these things I try to maintain, labeling them frivolous and unnecessary, but the truth is, they were always frivolous and unnecessary whether my life was in a stable rhythm or not. I never needed to give myself a 5-minute facial massage every night. I did not ever have to sit down and watch new episodes of TV shows with my partner and my dog. I haven’t required making excessive playlists on my iTunes to go on living. But I did those things when I was feeling fine and things were great because they made me happy, and there’s nothing wrong with maintaining a semblance of those things when the situation at hand isn’t the best.
You may end up shifting your 10-minute skincare routine to two minutes, or your daily jog to a quick stroll around the corner, or even swap out activities entirely like trading my gym time for book reading time when my chronic back pain is peaking. But hold the space in your schedule for those things because they really are important in keeping yourself grounded and, in my opinion, even more so when you’re in a period of heightened pressure and stress.
I hope all of you out there are doing the best you can and staying healthy and at home during this very strange juncture in the history of the world. Please do what you can to keep yourself feeling the best you can while we’re all staying indoors. Stay connected to your loved ones, give your pets a lot of cuddles if you’re fortunate enough to have one, and try to create little pockets of light among the general gloom that’s hanging over us. We will get through this by emotionally and mentally coming together, even if we’re staying physically apart for the time being. And seriously, wash your hands. <3
What advice do you have for staying grounded and sane while in lockdown?