Nurturing over Productivity: 10 Ideas to Survive a Quarantine

I am just going to ramble a few things I notice talking about on repeat. Take it or leave it.

Thoughts from a trauma and grief therapist:

1. This feeling is called anticipatory grief or trauma. We are in this survival place that feels surreal. We have already experienced a massive shift to our lives, and we are WAITING for the next trauma or grief related thing to happen. We are also waiting to move forward with our lives… not knowing what the new normal will look like on the other side. We are sitting in this unknown, uncertain, survival reality. Be kind.

2. Those of us that have experienced a traumatic loss know this feeling well. We have been here before. We have either made friends with it and learned how to cope OR we are experiencing a significant trigger and emotional dysregulation. Be kind.

3. We may also call this feeling ‘acute grief’. It is the days, weeks, months after a trauma or loss where nothing feels normal and everything is really hard. Know this feeling is temporary and these overwhelming waves of emotion will pass. Be kind.

4. Parents who have navigated a perinatal mental health issue postpartum know this feeling intimately. Your world has changed. Leaving your house to bring on anxiety. Standing in target and acknowledging there are threats all around – is familiar. You are prepared for this feeling. You will survive this – as you survived that new baby. Be kind.

5. Things are harder to do than before. This is because each day you are spending emotional and mental capacity just adjusting to this life. You are spending time in fear, sadness, and isolation. There is this idea of spoons. You have ten spoons to start the day and each task that requires mental or emotional labor takes a spoon. Most of us have constructed a life where we use all ten spoons by bedtime – and then we start over. Those us that have had to integrate trauma, grief or depression understand that we can use ten spoons by 9:00a. Be kind.

6. When flooded with anxiety we are not good at making decisions and we will ALWAYS choose the path of least resistance. If you are sitting on the couch watching TV – the easiest choice is to remain on the couch. If you want to ‘do something’ or ‘feel productive’, plan what you want to do the day before. Make the choice the day before. This will make it more likely to do it because you are not choosing at the moment. (Also – if you decide you don’t want to, try again the next day). Be kind.

7. FLUIDITY. Overwhelming feelings will not last, just as the good moments will not last. Do not hang on to either of these ideas. Feel it at the moment, take a mental snapshot of gratitude in the good moment. Allow yourself to sit in the overwhelming emotions without trying to run. They will not last. Be kind.

8. The worst thing you can do is try to avoid all unpleasant emotions. We do this with ‘toxic positivity’. The unpleasant emotions WILL come and if you have avoided for a while, your nervous system doesn’t know how to regulate. Do not stop all unpleasant or discomfort with ‘you could have it worse’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘at least you have a home’. YES – it can ALWAYS be worse.

**Connect with yourself before you correct (parenting idea). Connect with your feelings and the origin of discomfort.

** THEN move to correct your thoughts.

** SIT IN IT FIRST. STAY IN IT. CRY and BE SAD.

9. We ALL regress when we are in crisis. You may find you are reverting to things you did when you were much younger to cope. This is normal. This is OK (except for drug or alcohol sobriety). Do what you know will support you and nurture you. Be Kind.

10. Decide what YOU are worried about. What are you afraid of for you and your family? Despite what you think, this is different for everyone. It might be older parents, yourself getting sick, death, being in the ICU alone, getting someone else sick, financial, housing, or food insecurity. THEN PREPARE. What can you do to prevent or nurture yourself IF that thing does happen? THEN acknowledge you have done all you can and feel the uncertainty.

There is plenty more to say on each of these ideas. Point is: feel what you are feeling, permit yourself to nurture yourself, be kind to yourself.

I saw a meme the other day that read:

I yelled at my therapist the other day for getting me through the hard stuff in my life and telling me it was behind me. She just said ‘my bad.’

I will never tell you it is behind you. But you can choose how you want to move through this.

Ultimately, be kind and stop bullying yourself. Growth is a natural human experience. You will grow through this if you allow yourself to feel it.

Be Well,

J

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