The coronavirus pandemic is leaving grocery stores without toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other essentials nearly all over the world. We look around us and see anxious looks on people’s faces, and it is no wonder that we begin to feel stressed and worried. We cannot predict how long our lives will feel like this, so we are all left in a state of hysteria and confusion.
This epidemic is leaving us without jobs and income, and it is taking an emotional and mental toll on everyone. When we feel overwhelmed and uncertain, we obsess over the news and try to play out future scenarios in our heads.
However, these techniques leave us in an even worse state and can be detrimental to mental wellbeing. Identifying what is not in your control and letting go of those worries is key during times of uncertainty like these.
Anxiety is inevitable during these unpredictable times, but when we recognize and accept it, we can stay in control of the mind and realize that there are many things that are out of our control. We cannot change the fact that grocery stores are limited, hospitals are at or over capacity, and we cannot force the isolation rules to be lifted.
Instead of over analyzing the news, it is important to recognize that these things are occurring and that everyone is going through these worrying feelings with us, even when we feel alone.
Identifying Your Control
Below is a list of things that are in fact in your control and those that are not to allow you to feel some mental and emotional relief:
What you can’t control:
What you can control:
Listen to your mind
Rather than sitting with negative thoughts all day and letting them overpower you, this is a great time to learn about connecting with your mind and start practicing ways to connect with yourself.
Whether it be breathing techniques, meditation, or even writing in a gratitude journal, your mental and emotional health will improve significantly, and you will be able to analyze your worries from an outside perspective. Even though we cannot control the situation, we can control the way we react to it and adjust to our surroundings.
Connect with Others
When you are feeling trapped in the house and do not have human interaction with friends and your community, it is very normal to start to feel isolated and lonely. Although we cannot control the need for staying home, we can adapt to it and connect with others through technology. You can call or video chat with your loved ones and catch up with people you have not spoken to in a while due to the digital availability at our fingertips.
Proper Sleep Schedule
Sleep is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels and improve your mental health when you are unable to leave the house. Getting the same number of hours each night will keep you feeling energized and will allow you to feel more structured on a daily basis.
Although you cannot control the way that your routine has changed compared to four months ago, you can control the way you adapt and adjust. It can be very easy to lay in bed all day or not have any structure in your life because you are home all day. However, staying on top of your morning routine no matter what you have to do each day will keep you motivated and accountable to stay productive.
Have you ever tuned out of a conversation because you were more involved in the discussion going on in your head? Did you find yourself getting irritated at the person droning on because it's distracting you from that argument raging within you?
You're not alone in feeling as though your inner dialogue is chaotic. Instead of constantly trying to drown things out, you find yourself turning everything down instead. All you want is to indulge those chaotic thoughts. You convince yourself that by arguing it out you'll come to a solution, instead you find yourself at an impasse.
The Inner Voice
The reality is that most people are fueled by the voice in their head. That nonstop stream of thoughts. It's worth noting that the most negative thoughts seem to come through loud and clear, while the positive ones whisper too quietly for you to make them out.
Often, that inner dialogue is humiliating, it's panic-ridden and defeatist. It wants to tear you down, drag you out, and leave you to suffer. It's tumultuous, creating chaos in your mind. That inner dialogue is driving your life and where do you think you're going if you're being driven by chaos and negativity? It's tough, but the only way to pull through it is to stay calm and override the chaos.
Where does this voice come from? It's built from birth. You absorb the tones of a teacher, the exasperated chiding from an angry parent or the put-downs of an unkind elder sibling. All of these external influences shape your inner dialogue. Unfortunately, we often absorb the negativity and allow it to take a prominent position, completely drowning out any positive voices trying to whisper in our ears. This is especially true when it's an authority figure who repeats this message and it gets lodged in your inner dialogue.
The only way to counter this chaotic inner dialogue is by changing the way you think. This is an active task that you must undertake with intention. If you set about intentionally changing how you think and speak to yourself, you will notice a change in your self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. Your inner dialogue can build you up or it can tear you down.
Changing the Dialogue
It's a difficult thing to do, to flip the script. It's easier to fall back on the negative voice of your parent berating you for something when you were seven than it is to nurture the positive voice of that same parent praising you for something that same day. The brutish voices rise above the chaos and speak the loudest. The kind tone and words fade into the background.
Is Your Inner Dialogue Chaotic?
What causes chaotic inner dialogue? In addition to the past shaping it, it is often driven by stress. It manifests in chaotic, bullying inner dialogue. There is this sense of injustice we feel, for whatever reason, and it's difficult to overcome that when the blows keep coming.
So, how can you tell whether your inner dialogue is truly chaotic? A good test would be to look at your life. Is it chaotic? Is it making you miserable? Do you feel unhappy with your actions, thoughts, words, and choices? If so, then there's a good chance your inner dialogue is chaotic. If you shush people to retreat to the arguments in your head, if you struggle to focus on tasks because those voices are too loud… then, your inner dialogue is chaotic.
It doesn't have to be. It's possible to change your inner dialogue to a more positive tone. It takes a lot of practice and you will need to consistently correct it with positive thoughts and affirmations. You should also enlist some stress management techniques to help calm your emotions to further control your inner dialogue.
Most people have grown up with an idea that good people always put others first. That, to truly lead a happy, productive, and good life, you must put your needs behind the needs of others. Good things will happen to you as long as you do the right thing, which is to put everyone else first. This is something that most of us have been taught. We should only care for ourselves once we have looked after everyone else. If we’re being honest, yes, the world does need more unselfishness. That doesn’t mean, though, that the only way to achieve that is by putting yourself last.
Your needs matter. Your cup needs to be overflowing to fill the cups of others. Unfortunately, many of us have fallen prey to the idea that everyone else comes first. That can be severely damaging to your self-esteem. We are subconsciously sending ourselves the message that we don’t matter as much. This leaves us open to poor treatment from others, in our personal and/or professional lives.
By meeting your own needs first you are more capable to support the people around you. Here are five ways to make yourself a priority in your own life.
1. Daily Loves
You work hard, you are run off your feet daily. Make yourself a priority by carving out time each day to do one thing that you love. You only live once so, why shouldn’t you have a bit of fun in life? You should get to enjoy your life every day. You took care of your responsibilities, so go enjoy 30 minutes, or however long you wish, to read, garden, play the piano, go to the gym or, whatever.
2. Tick That List
You probably tick things off of your to-do list daily at work. You have to. If you didn’t, your boss would be on your back. Does that level of organization extend to your home life or do you get so caught up in taking care of everyone else that you ignore that to-do list? You’d be surprised at how much stress and anxiety an untended to-do list can cause you. Make yourself a priority by ticking off one thing from your to-do list daily. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be you that does it – if you have a partner and/or children, then learn how to delegate tasks. While they’re tackling those tasks, you can escape for a moment of peace.
3. Identify Time Wasters
How do you spend your day? When you take an honest look at your productivity, you will easily identify activities and tasks that waste your time and offer you no value. Cut those out and you will find it much easier to prioritize yourself. Think about how much time you spend on social media or, running to the store multiple times a week… add that time up and you have an afternoon at the spa.
4. A Memorable Day
As a larger commitment to yourself, strive to enjoy one memorable day each month. It’s your big day. How will you spend it? This day is about just one thing – one experience, you have just one focus. This is a break that immerses you and feeds you as you need to be fed. It isn’t about some finished product, it’s about capturing a feeling. It can be whatever you want, after all, it’s your memorable day.
5. Set Boundaries
It’s important to set limits on your time and let others know what is acceptable. When we don’t do this it lets others know that we undervalue ourselves, which makes you a target. It will change your life. Take some time to determine what your limits are and start enforcing them with everyone around you.