We all know that there is a pandemic happening right now, and it’s easy to get caught up in the way that we feel. Certainly, the majority of the planet out there has had feelings regarding what is happening. It’s difficult to practice social distancing when we’ve been wired to believe that no man is an island. While we certainly need social connection and social support, just by being mindful of our new feelings around COVID-19 as we isolate, we may be able to pick up new techniques on emotional regulation.
Psychiatrists have something to add to the conversation and some advice on techniques to dissipate stress during this time. One psychiatrist has put forth the notion that we may be experiencing “emotional inflammation” during this time. This state is the combination of stressful emotions piled high into a near-physiological reaction.
What is Emotional Inflammation?
Emotional inflammation is akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It comes from our lack of ability to control a certain situation. Whereas people with PTSD struggle to manage the toll that past events have taken on them, emotional inflammation is more of a present state of being.
People from all walks of life can be experiencing this during this time in the world’s history. There could be family members that you know that have this or it could be members of the media that you only read the words of. No one is immune, unfortunately.
What Can We Do to Manage Our Feelings?
People who have training in mindfulness exercises might be adept to adapting this practice naturally. Others, who lack the capacity to self-regulate, will find that they are increasingly caught up in feelings of stress. Most people do tend to just fight off emotions. It can work for a while but in the late fall and winter, many people break down. Flus and colds can just be one manifestation of people’s inability to sit with their feelings.
Emotions come to people, but they don’t have to let them out or stuff them in. They can simply acknowledge them. These emotions, whether positive or negative, can come to be visitors rather than controllers or feared house guests. The emotional reaction in the body is known to last only 90 seconds. You can have calm after this if you practice sitting with your emotions. You don’t judge your emotions when you let them visit, but you do acknowledge them. The good news is that they just fade into oblivion if you are not constantly making yourself a slave to them.
We hear news all day about how people are dealing, or not dealing, with the fall-out of the virus. Instead of letting your emotions get the best of you, you can just breath. You can read the news and sit with your feelings, and then exhale them out.
If you feel you are in the grip of a certain emotion, you can tell yourself that it will be gone in a minute and a half. That’s actually not a long time to wait it out. People can practice this with their kids or just when they have to go out grocery shopping. You can do this when you are checking your bank account or right before you have to make a phone call to ask for some grace on an upcoming bill.
How Should we Be Reacting to COVID-19?
The virus exists, so you don’t need to pretend that it doesn’t. You should be putting into practice what your government is telling you about how to handle yourself. Make sure you stock up on two week’s worth of supplies, but experts are saying that you don’t need anything more than that at the moment.
If you are at home with your family, you can all make an action plan about what changes you will implement to help you all feel safe. You need to also tell yourself at this point, you are doing the best you can. Researching how to clean for Covid and other helpful articles are great in moderation. Remember that this is one aspect of life for you right now, and you need to keep a balance even while you stay home.