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Comfort in Crisis: Coping with the Overwhelm and Anxiety of COVID-19

COVID-19 brings out anxiety and fear but you can offer yourself comfort in crisis. The current situation requires flexibility and adaptability.

Woman and baby smiling comfort in crisis

comfort in a crisis text with peaceful photos

comfort in a crisis text with peaceful photos action steps

comfort in a crisis text with peaceful photos

comfort in a crisis text with peace written in sand on a beach

comfort in a crisis candle with lace

night sky at sea comfort in a crisis with peaceful photos

comfort in a crisis text with peaceful photos

comfort in a crisis text with peaceful photos

flower with text Ways to comfort yourself in a crisis

The following is just the words  from above as intuitive computer readers for vision impairments or brain differences can’t read images. 

I am going to share honestly with you all. So far, I have been up and down with all that is happening in the world.

I go from the verge of tears to lying in bed staring at the ceiling to feeling motivated to reach out and encourage others to creative to utter irritation. Maybe that’s you too?

Our world is in a major time of uncertainty, and daily life as we know it is shifting.

The current situation requires flexibility and adaptability and that isn’t easy, even for the most spontaneous of personalities.

Many things are up in the air. Schedules are changing. Incomes are affected. We unexpectedly have kids at home all the time. We are suddenly accidental homeschoolers. We’re required to stay home. Other people are reacting badly or selfishly. The news is upsetting. Recommendations are changing by the minute.

None of this is necessarily terrible or bad. But it is different. And when you add it all together, it honestly is overwhelming.  Scary, even.

But here is something I am learning in therapy and in practice in my daily life. It is this: how to be tender with myself in my overwhelm.

  • Acknowledge how much is coming at me
  • Pay attention to my body
  • Be gentle and kind toward myself.

I have to do these hourly sometimes.

You have permission to acknowledge what what is coming at you.

  • having to stay at home
  • having to suddenly homeschool kids
  • job uncertainty
  • canceled trips or plans
  • inability to find toilet paper
  • empty shelves in the store
  • loved ones in other areas
  • the constant news and posts
  • your teen hates you because you won’t let them go out

Pay attention to your body.

Some ways overwhelm might show up:

  • a sense of irritability you don’t usually have.
  • tension in your body.
  • that feeling that you have to cry.
  • a tightness in your chest.
  • a sense of just feeling very very uncomfortable.
  • like you’re experiencing muscle vibrations.
  • feeling so tightly wound you’re a guitar string about to pop off 
  • a stomach ache.
  • constipation.
  • dizziness.
  • breathlessness.

Acknowledge how you’re feeling

Use a script like this: “There’s no flour in all the stores I’ve been to. I’m feeling panicky about what that means. I don’t know what will happen in the future. I’m scared I won’t be able to provide for my family”

Acknowledge what is–no flour

Acknowledge what you’re feeling about it–scared and panicky

Acknowledge the message you’re sending yourself about it–the future is uncertain and probably bad

Be kind and gentle- offering yourself comfort in crisis

Then you have the opportunity to be kind and gentle with yourself. It goes something like this:

“I’m scared and feeling panicked. That’s ok. It’s normal to feel upset in a situation like this. I’ve been through hard things before I did ok. I can get through this. I can do hard things. “

Stay in the present. Be mindful of where you are in that moment. Find a focal point and breathe. Imagine your body calming down and the negative feeling releasing. It helps me to literally put my hand on my chest and feel myself breathe deeply.

Ways to Protect Your Mental Health

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
  • Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind.
  • Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. 
  • Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Source: CDC

If You Need 

  • a moment of quiet
  • a bath to soak and rest
  • to cry with a loved one on the phone
  • to lock yourself into a room
  • to write it out in your journal
  • to draw or paint
  • listen to calming music
  • to zone out on a show or in a book
  • to spend some time in God’s presence
  • to cook or bake
  • to take a walk in silence around the block
  • to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling

then please be gentle and kind to yourself, offer yourself the comfort in the crisis you need, and do it!

Ignoring overwhelm won’t fix it.

Acknowledging how we are feeling, paying attention to our bodies and being kind to ourselves  will help.

We can find peace in the midst of the societal shifts and uncertainties. Being tender with ourselves is what will strengthen us to endure this season well. We can continue to have the capacity to care about those around us.

We’re all in this together.

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