Let’s be honest, the last several weeks have been tough on everyone. In the last seven days, 23,644 Montanans filed for unemployment. In March, the stock market took one of its biggest hits since Black Monday in 1987, causing many to lose their life savings and retirements.
Essential employees working in the front lines are putting in long hours, desperately trying to meet the needs of those in the community. Additionally, many Americans are working from home- trying to juggle multiple roles, while feeling disconnected from family and friends.
While many of us are trying to mentally manage the current state of affairs in our nation, we are also trying to grapple with managing our physical health in the midst of a global pandemic. That said, we could all use a few soft reminders to help us find strength in the wake of the enormous uncertainty that surrounds us.
Below are a few reminders inspired by Youth Dynamics Clinical Director of Community Services, Moyra Anthony, LCSW, for all of those who are struggling.
We’re All Going Through Collective Trauma
Trauma is often brought on by an event or something which happens too quick or fast. This is exactly what has happened and continues to happen to all of us.
The events that are unfolding at the moment with the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have materialized overnight, leaving an entire nation crippled in its wake.
We’re All Exhausted
Each and every one of us is emotionally and physically exhausted. Are you struggling to get out of bed, to go to sleep, or just feeling fizzled? All of these things are normal reactions to trauma.
It is important to take time to take care of yourself right now. Make sure that you are eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and doing what you can to stay connected to others.
We’re All Overwhelmed
The situation unfolding around us is overwhelming. To witness the suffering around us and grapple with the uncertainty of what the future may bring is no easy feat. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, and if it hasn’t all sunk in yet, that’s okay too.
In order to care for your own mental health, avoid watching too much news and work to focus as much as possible on staying present. Worrying about the past or the future will do little to change the current global state of affairs.
We’re All Afraid
It’s okay to be scared, truth is, we’re all scared. Those who say they’re not scared are probably lying or have not fully come to terms with the current situation.
The truth is, people don’t do well with uncertainty. In normal day-to-day life, we tend to avoid outcomes that are uncertain when we make decisions.
One of the most famous quotes that coins the idea of ambiguity or “uncertainty” aversion, a theory of behavioral economics, comes from past Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld in his famous speech in 2002:
“…there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
Right now, we are clearly facing an unknown; a true uncertainty. And, avoidance of this uncertainty is impossible, which leads to feelings of discomfort and fear. So, just know you aren’t alone if you are struggling.
Read More: Worried? How to Break Free from Uncertainty
We’re All Clinging to Some Form of Certainty in the Midst of all the Current Unknowns
It’s funny how it works, suddenly you feel the need to ensure that your pantry’s full of food and your garage is full of toilet paper. If this is you, know you’re not alone– it’s why there is so much hype in the media about supply shortages.
We cling on to things for our own sense of normalcy. Some work longer hours, others fixate on small details or routines. All of this is a normal way that we as humans deal with the unknown. You’re not alone, and it’s perfectly normal!
We May Be Less or More Productive Than Normal
We each deal with trauma and stress in different ways and that’s okay. If you are struggling to get up and put pants on in the morning, you’re not alone. Many of us are struggling with motivation right now.
While some people may pull away in the face of stress, other people might feel the need to use work or daily tasks as a way to deal with anxieties head on or distract themselves from them. That’s also a perfectly normal reaction in the face of the current uncertainties.
I know it’s redundant, but for all of you out there who are struggling or feeling alone right now, the biggest reminder we can give you is that you’re really not alone, even though it feels that way. We are all in this together- every person, community, state, and nation. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace. You deserve the love and patience you so readily dish out to others.