We are all tired of this pandemic, aren’t we? The mundane routines inside the house and back-to-back lockdowns that made days pass by in such a blur. Do you even realize that in two weeks -from when this article is published, it’s going to be March again? What is going on?!
As this whole pandemic is still trying to make sense in my head, I still have to maintain my game at work, keeping relevance with my friends, self-develop in the way I can, and making sure I keep my own health and safety. At some point, all these chores got too overwhelming leading me to a disfunction: taking things too personally, bored, unexcited, feeling irrelevant, lonely, fatigue, irregular appetite.
I knew that I wasn’t capable of overcoming these feelings myself so, as mentioned in my previous article, I’m seeking professional help. Valentina -my therapist (not her real name), has advised me a lot of things. The top three things that have kept me sane until today would be as below:
1. Put on your ‘thinking cap’
“… Remember that what captures our attention is often abrupt, negative, and unusual but that doesn’t make it real.” — Dr. Kaushik Ram
Often times we unconsciously magnify a small thing that perhaps won’t even matter as much in the future. It could be a simple task at work that got overthought and caused anxiety. We’re all definitely guilty of this! To this, I was given a ‘thinking cap’ by Valentina. She said that as long as I have this cap, it will help me distinguish between reality and thought.
What’s the difference? Reality is tangible. It’s something that’s happening now. The thought is something you make a scenario of, it’s a form of wonder that does not necessarily fall true -until proven otherwise.
A simple example: your boss texted you at 6 pm on a Friday as simple as “Hi (Your Name)” and your boss didn’t follow through with the message. If I were you, I’d be anxious too! But let’s put on the thinking cap here:
So the reality is: your manager texted you.
The thought would be: What? Why is my manager texting me at this hour? Am I going to get fired? Is my manager mad at me?
When we’re able to eliminate the thought and just accept the reality, we’d be more in peace and be able to have the rest of the weekend off, instead of constantly thinking of what your manager has to say to that text.
Oftentimes, your manager would respond on Monday saying, “never mind, I was about to ask you the log-in credentials to the intelligence platform but I’ve figured it out. Hope you had a great weekend.”
And you’d be like: “did I just waste my entire weekend feeling anxious about this?”
So yea, thinking cap!
2. Take a look at your ‘medal’
Sometimes it’s hard to create healthy boundaries for ourselves because perhaps our society has conditioned us that saying “no” is upsetting and negative. On the contrary, the power of being able to say the word “no” is immaculate. It shows courage and strength!
I really like this article from Entrepreneur.com that I encountered as I research for this particular point. The quote below is absolutely true and relatable!
“One of the most difficult things about saying no is getting FOMO (fear of missing out). But let’s really think about the benefits of saying no. As long as you don’t go overboard, it’s a chance for you to be more productive.” — Paula Rizzo
So for this, Valentina gave me a ‘medal’ with one side saying YES and one side saying NO. When encountered with a decision, Valentina told me to breathe, close my eyes and visualize this medal. She asked me “what does the medal say?” and if it’s a YES then, it is, and if it’s a NO, then it is. No justification, no follow-ups, nothing, just a YES, and a NO.
Of course, this comes with a lot of consequences — like missing out on opportunities as one of them, but this helps you create healthy boundaries. Eventually, you’ll feel less guilty about it.
At the end of the day, we have to take care of ourselves before taking care of others!
3. Visualize a safe space with your ‘magic wand’
Last but not least, Valentina gave me a ‘magic wand’. This tool works like a pen that I can use to draw on air. Whenever I feel anxious, overwhelmed, uncomfortable, I can use this magic wand in my mind’s eye to draw a safe space.
A safe space is a place that’s intimate to you which can be a real place or a place made up of your thoughts, where you can be whoever you want to be, and express whatever you need to express.
Valentina told me that this safe space can also guide you as to who you can trust. If the person you’re seeing makes you feel safe, like how your safe space does, then it means you can trust the person. On the contrary, if he or she does not resonate with safety, then perhaps it’s your gut feeling that’s trying to communicate with you.
At the end of the day, even though we always want to belong to someone or something, being alone rather than trusting the wrong people would be better.
These three pieces of equipment have helped me a lot in pushing through the hard times. To me, the one that works the best is the ‘thinking cap’. I’m now almost always aware as to which is reality and thoughts. The key is to always have the courage to put yourself first, before putting others.
I hope this works wonders for you as it does for me!
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash