Three Healthy Things You Can Control Right Now
It's the times when we feel as if everything is spinning out of control when it becomes most important to control those few things we can. Right now, when so much of the future is unknown, we need to all focus on making sure we prioritize our emotional and mental health as much as we are prioritizing staying physically healthy.
Having survived two terrible high-risk pregnancies that had me confined to my bed or couch from week five; a delivery that left me unexpectedly on bedrest and frequently checked into the ER for a few more months; a home invasion while I had a newborn that resulted in a PTSD diagnosis; then another delivery with health issues that had me admitted to the hospital without my brand new baby, I have learned a lot about surviving in tough situations and making it out the other side stronger, despite the circumstances.
My little family has also survived two catastrophic hurricanes. We were partially displaced from our home for six weeks after Hurricane Ike (we could sleep in our bed, but we had no electricity and no way to cook food or get ready for work), and we helped our subdivision rebuild after Hurricane Harvey since our home was one of the few that didn't flood.
There are always three things we can control in times of chaos. My therapist and my own unscientific trial and error process has taught me that the quicker I get in control of these and the harder I work to stay in control, the more positive the situation is going to be when this is all finished.
We can control our actions, our thoughts, and our environments.
We can't control the people who are ignoring the social distancing requirements or stocking so many packages of toilet paper and cans of soup they'll never be able to use them. But we can follow the guidelines ourselves and only take what is necessary to meet our own family's needs.
We can't control what our leaders are or are not doing, or how other people are reacting to it. But we can choose to ignore what we disagree with and not allow it to take over our thoughts and mindset. If that means social media distancing, turning off the TV or avoiding conversations with certain friends or family members, take those steps.
You don't have to explain yourself. "I'm making the choice to avoid any unecessary stressors or anyting that might cause additional anxiety right now" is the only sentence you need to have prepared for any tough conversations. No apology needed. Additonally, I have had no regrets about unfriending, unfollowing or snoozing anyone I don't agree with politically or scientifically, anyone who is overly negative, or anyone who is constantly posting facts that (while absolutely true) I don't want to be bombarded with right now.
Actively choosing to limit the information you expose yourself to works wonders! Sure, it's a bit head-in-the-sand, but at the end of the day, I prefer to prioritize my mental health and control my anxiety.
Lastly, and this has been proven in multiple studies, a messy, stressful environment actually leads to more stress and anxiety. It makes sense when you think about it. Looking at more physical trash and clutter isn't going to do anything to ease your mind. I have noticed that when I start feeling antsy or overwhelmed, organizing a closet or even a cleaning out a junk drawer helps me to feel somewhat more in control of things, takes my mind off the current situation and hopefully will help my husband and children feel more at ease.
Please note that Goodwill and most other donation facilities are asking that you do not drop off any items. They are closed and household items carry germs. So grab a trash bag or a big box and plan on taking it in later.
I know there are people out there struggling right now. I have friends testing positive for COVID-19, friends who have lost jobs, and businesses in jeopardy. There is absolutely no shame in seeking out medical help, whether that is a psychologist or psychiatrist, and I urge anyone struggling to please do so.