The world is in the midst of crisis with this COVID-19 pandemic. Our minds are overwhelmed with current difficulties as well as many, many imagined future crises. We are continuously consuming information that further inflames our mental drama. So, how do we get through this without losing our minds?
First of All, It’s Normal
Your brain is designed to scan for danger. It’s how it keeps you safe. If you are having mental drama it just means you are a human with a normally functioning brain. We live in a world of information at our fingertips. We watch the news, read the paper, scroll social media – all of it vying for our attention with headlines and information that scare us even more. Your brain wants you to think that you need ALL this information. You can decide how much information to let in.
It’s understandable to want to learn the current updates. But be sure to give equal (or more) time to good stuff. Learn something new, read your Bible, play some great music, make a list of things you’re grateful for or that you’ve noticed in the last week.
Mind Your Thoughts
Pay attention to your thinking. Now is a great time to practice the habit of doing a thought download. Every day grab a sheet of paper and empty out your brain. All the crazy thoughts, the anxiety, the words swirling around in your brain. Literally write it with a pen or pencil. There’s something therapeutic about the mind, hand, paper connection. You can keep the paper or throw it out when you’re done, but get them out of your head.
Write, write, write.
Empty out your brain.
Don’t think about proper sentences or proper grammar or punctuation. Just write.
Feel Your Feelings
Once you’ve done that, let yourself feel. We spend so much time and energy pushing away negative emotions. We buffer them with food, alcohol, TV, games and more. Anything to not feel them. Go ahead and feel the actual sensations in your body. Let it flow through you. Sometimes it helps to name the feelings and to describe how they feel in your body. Often, in doing this, you will feel the intensity lessen. You may feel some relief from not trying to push them down.
Focus on the Good
Now that you’ve let your brain do what it was designed to do, and you’ve let yourself feel your feelings instead of trying to tamp them down, it’s time to redirect your brain. Spend some time focusing on things that you know to be good, and true, and right (Philippians 4:8-10). Write down the things that you are grateful for, think about what you are learning through your situation and the areas for growth, speak out loud what you want to spend time focusing on.
As you practice this – the negative and the positive things of life – your brain will get better and better at acknowledging your fears and concerns, feeling your feelings, and then acknowledging that there is also good out there.
Ask for Help
If you’d like some help sorting out your thinking and going through this process, I’m offering some free coaching sessions over the next few months.
Grab a spot here.