How are you in these crazy times (I feel like I have been asking that a lot)? If you are anything like me, you’ll be ricocheting between emotions like a pinball. One moment I am full of hope at humankind’s ability to pull together, deeply moved at everyone clapping for the NHS and at others I feel like we are at the edge of the apocalypse (although why am I still bothering to mop floors if this is the case?)
Instead of struggling with emotions you don’t want right now - and I don’t want anxiety, anger and sadness about coronavirus either - try making room for them. We might not want these emotions, but we’ve got them.
Think about the better things you could be doing - giving your full attention to a loved one, volunteering for the NHS, focusing on something that makes life better right now - if your precious energy isn’t going on avoiding the feelings you don’t want by zoning out, comfort eating or mindless scrolling.Here’s a simple exercise to practise managing emotions. It’s one of the most effective things I use in therapy:
1. Close your eyes. Lay a hand on the part of your body where you feel this feeling most strongly. Imagine this is the hand of someone who loves and cares for you. Feel the warmth into this area, not to get rid of this feeling but just to open up around it and make room for it. See if you can hold this feeling gently.
2. Now see if you can imagine opening up and expanding around this feeling in your body. Notice how you are always bigger than the feeling.
3. Breathe into this feeling. Just allow it to be there. You don’t have to like it or want it, just see if you can allow it.
4. Sit with this feeling for a couple of minutes. Keep breathing.
5. Slowly open your eyes. Notice if you feel that you can connect more with your values and your environment when you are making room for difficult feelings.
If you keep practising this daily, you will start to do this much more easily. It won’t get rid of these feelings - that’s not the aim - but it will change the impact these feelings have on you. That’s got to be worth a couple of minutes of your time in between working from home (shouting at your computer), homeschooling (shouting at children) or watching Netflix (shouting at the broadband).
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