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5 Tips To Keep One’s Sanity When The World Is Falling Apart

By: Maggie Reynolds, LCPC

Reading this title probably brings to mind a picture of chaos…pandemic, climate change, international and domestic conflict, and the non-sensical political debates on the internet or even the family dinner table. For a few minutes that it takes to read this article, I encourage you to turn down the volume on the noise of the chaos.  Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere.  Just take a few minutes and tap into an openness to learn and listen deeply to your own needs.  Here are some things to consider…

The Eye of a Hurricane: 5 Tips To Keep One’s Sanity When The World Is Falling Apart

Find an Anchor: If you have ever danced or skated and practiced spinning around really fast, you will know that the key to not losing your balance is spotting. Spotting is where you pick a point of vision (like a clock on a wall ahead of you) and you try to keep it in your sight and find it again after a rotation.  Just as this literal trick of vision can help keep one’s equilibrium, so too can other metaphorical and imaginative types of vision.  You might use guided imagery to “become” the stone that jets out of the water, upon which the waves crash. Alternatively, choose one of your highest values, such as courage, kindness, or loyalty.  Contemplate it and let it guide you through the choices and experiences you face.  Put thought, energy and focus into your chosen anchor and hold on.  It may be very rough, but…

Remember That the Storm Will Pass: It can be difficult in times of stress to remember that there can be times of peace and stability. For some privileged and lucky people, those times might be most of the time.  For others less fortunate, they may be mere fleeting moments. Either way, it can help to remember that your feelings and circumstances can and will change and that there can be moments of meaning and joy even in the midst of suffering.  Look at those moments as pearls and collect them and string them together.

Separate Empathetic Feelings From Your Own Feelings: Sometimes the storm is watching others create conflict or endure suffering.  For the empathetic, there can be a danger in taking on and internalizing the emotions and circumstances of another.  You can needlessly sacrifice to reach for and connect with others. A better approach is to take a moment to be clear with yourself about your own feelings and think of them as distinct from the other’s feelings. Then, choosing to utilize empathy, you allow yourself to feel for and with another person for a time and a purpose (usually providing understanding and comfort). Be sure to remind yourself that these are not your feelings.  Rather they are the feelings “on behalf of” the other. If you can,  identify the ways that your feelings might be different from the other person’s. Do not carry what is not yours to carry.

Take Effective Action: While acknowledging that fear is a normal response to stress and threat, try to make decisions from motivations other than fear, terror, and desperation, if you can.  Sometimes your fear responses will kick in and you’ll intuitively respond in a compulsive way. Do not blame yourself for this.  This is how you have survived until this point.  However, if you are able to create enough calm, see if you can recall or formulate an effective strategy for action.  Start with the things you can control and try to acknowledge and appreciate yourself for the effort you are making to face and endure adversity. Root for yourself as you would for your favorite character in a story who overcomes conflict. Finally…

Don’t Think You Have To Do It Alone: Reach out for support and learn from others who have survived difficult situations. If history and anthropology have taught us anything it’s that we need each other.  We need connection and community.  Relating with others helps us see that others are hurting too. We have a better chance of working through and overcoming challenges if we can listen to others’ stories and share our stories with them. Therapy is another place where you can get support in telling and reshaping the narrative of your story. If you would like to speak with a trained and experienced therapist, you can reach out to a counselor at Symmetry Counseling, or call to book an appointment at 312-578-9990.

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