For most of us, checking the news for updates about the pandemic has practically become routine. It feels like our responsibility to keep up with everything that's happening—and while it is, there's also no denying that all the news and current events could easily become too overwhelming for one person to handle. When that point comes, know that you have other options for managing your emotions aside from turning your phone and TV off.
Ahead, Preview talks to life and career coach Aurora M. Suarez to discuss the importance of relieving yourself of these emotions and doing so in a healthy way:
Why is it important to manage your emotions during the pandemic?
"It's important to manage fear, stress and anxiety during this time because allowing these emotions to thrive will lead to panic. And panic is not a great starting point for making sound decisions for your life, your future, your family," says Aurora. "Stress also leads to a lowered immune system, which is something none of us want during this pandemic."
Forcing yourself to just forget about what you feel doesn't help either. In fact, it could only make the situation worse. "Our usual reaction to these emotions is to numb or suppress them. Numbing or suppressing them means they are expressed in other ways: anger, irritation, annoyance, depression," she adds. "If you are living in close quarters with someone, they will receive the brunt of your emotions, which is not fair for them or healthy for your relationships. If you're living alone, this might lead to panic attacks or other mental health challenges."
Mental exercises for fear, stress, and anxiety management
Everyone has their own way of relieving themselves of negative energy. Some people work out, focus on their work, or maybe pour their energy into house chores instead. Though these could work, acknowledging your emotions and diffusing your energy in mind-healing ways can give you the exact kind of relief you're looking for, too.
Aurora shares that doing simple mental exercises has helped her manage her own emotions during the pandemic. She's been chronicling a lot of it on Instagram, inspiring many to do the same. "[Doing mental exercises] reminds me that I still have the power to choose my thoughts and attitude towards my life," the life coach explains. Acknowledging her fear, stress, and anxiety, she says, lessens its power over her as well—"allowing them their voice doesn't mean giving them the driver's seat and letting them control you."
Best of all, being in tune with herself gives her the energy to support others. "By filling myself up first, I have enough left to give to others. The energy of helping others then comes from a place of love rather than from obligation and guilt, which is more sustainable in the long run."
Below, Aurora guides us through six of mental exercises that you can try at home:
1. Acknowledge your emotions.
Sit down quietly and ask yourself: How are you feeling? Dig deeper and ask: Why are you feeling this way? Allow the emotions to flow through you. It might help to write this down in your journal as the blank page can be your repository for all your emotions.
2. Write down your fears and hopes.
Another journaling practice is to write down all your fears followed by your hopes. Write: I'm scared that ___________ over and over and fill in the blanks until you have put your fears down on paper. After this, write: I hope that _____________ and fill the blanks with your hopes for today and the future.
3. Talk to someone.
Find a supportive friend, coach, colleague to vent your fears, stress and anxiety on. Let a friend know that you can do the same for them.
Use apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer to guide you if you're just starting. Start with five minutes and know that it's okay. There's no need to be an overachiever when you're first starting to meditate.
5. Do grounding exerises.
When you feel stress, anxiety or fear coming up, do some grounding exercises. Sit on the ground and close your eyes. Take five deep calming and cleansing breaths. Allow yourself to feel your connection to the earth underneath you. Allow that grounding energy to fill your body and remind you that you are always being supported. Allow yourself to let go. When you're ready to face the world again, open your eyes.
6. Write down what you're grateful for.
Take your eyes off what's going wrong towards the unexpected gifts of this time. Everyday, write down five things you're grateful for. Make it specific to the day. You will find that even in the middle of darkness, you can discover some light.
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