I hope you are doing ok this week. I think its important to recognize that much like the virus, stress and anxiety can spread. Humans like routine and predictability. We don’t enjoy being pushed outside our normal schedule and habits. I think we should all take a minute to breath and give ourselves permission to be upset about the disruption in our routine. It’s ok to have emotions and be upset about what is going on in the world.
I see a lot of people who are really bothered by the emotions of other people. I hear a lot of people saying things like, “You are overreacting.” Or “Stop causing panic.” Or “Stop freaking out!”
I think it’s worth pointing out that when someone is stressed the last thing they want to hear is “knock it off.”
It’s important to recognize two things. One you are not responsible for someone else’s emotions. And two when someone is upset, I think the best solution is to listen. I think there is this cultural belief that we hold. If someone is upset, I must fix it or help them calm down. However, I think that most people who are upset don’t want someone else to decide that they should calm down.
The next time you encounter someone who is feeling anxious or upset, instead of telling them how they should feel perhaps just acknowledge their feelings for what they are. In the mental health field, we have several tricks that we use to help people feel seen. Some of these might seem obvious, but I encourage you to give them a try.
Restatement: “You sound really upset that they cancelled daycare for this week.”
Seeking clarification: “I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that.”
Empathy: “It’s scary when there are so many unknown variables in the world right now.”
Reflecting: “Do you think the world is going to end?”
Being a good listener is hard. In fact, I think it’s one of the hardest skills to develop. It takes time and patience. It requires a commitment to put our own needs on hold and focus on another person. However, I think in this time of uncertainty listening to the people around us can be a very healing remedy. We can help those in need. We can encourage those who are anxious. We can focus on the tangible instead of worrying about the unknown.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, check out my free stress less worksheet!
Have a good week my friends!