Coping when times are uncertain

How are you? Ok, I’ll stop and rephrase. How are you coping with the uncertainty of these unprecedented times?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I had originally written this a few months ago right before the holidays of 2019 (doesn’t that seem at least a YEAR ago?), but am revisiting it now in order to share some updated tips that have helped me in the past. 

They’re helping me right now with all this anxiety around the uncertainty of the future and I’m hoping that by sharing them, they can help you, too.

I’m sitting here on a Tuesday night (had to double check), doing my best to try and feel tired so I can sleep. 

For what, though? When there’s nothing distinct to wake up for in my own schedule, it’s hard to have a compelling reason to go to bed. Mostly I was zoning out on the internet and checking up on some old friends that I need to text.

I have officially taken a leave of absence at my day job because I am able to do so for a short little while. I’ll go back when life becomes safer. The risk of getting infected with the virus is too great for me to be on the front lines. No, I’m not in health care but the p/t job I took in December now falls under the category of “essential worker”.

The last month has been very challenging for me and many others.

I wanted to put together a resource that everyone can access, no matter what their age. Mental health is paramount, most especially during times like this.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Confession time: my baseline tends to be on the melancholic side, even though I can give the impression that I’m my usual extroverted self.

I’ve not been feeling extroverted as of late. My coping skills at times haven’t been able to rise to particular events and situations, even without being in quarantine.

As an older woman (that’s still funny to type!), I’ve seen a lot during my lifetime, and I’d bet more than many. It’s not a competition, though.

One thing that’s not up for argument is that I’ve led an unconventional life that most people deem “interesting”. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, hurt a lot of people, and ultimately hurt myself the most when I didn’t learn from those mistakes at the time.

I’ve been bummed out for the last several months and the holidays didn’t help.

Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that I’m lucky to be able to stay home for a little while longer. I’ve got a teeny amount of savings, have enough food in the pantry for me and my family, and I’m checking my privilege in that I’m technically a “white appearing Latina” (amongst other things). Special thanks to burlesque icon RiRi St. Cyr for introducing herself with that term. I’ve co-opted it to describe myself.

I want to share a resource with you that I’ve been reading for YEARS. It’s free and is just a click away.

21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed 

Summarized and paraphrased below.

  1. Know that you’re not alone.
  2. Understand that “Happy People” are acting out of concern.
  3. Enlist the help of a professional.
  4. Understand that antidepressants will only do so much.
  5. Pick up a paintbrush, pencil, an activity that you’ve gotten joy from.
  6. Eat nutritionally sound, regular small meals.
  7. While doing #3, get bloodwork done to check everything out.
  8. Watch the Nightly Business News on PBS to bore you to sleep.
  9. Learn how to meditate. Focus on your breath.
  10. Face a window as often as you can at work and at home.
  11. Cry as it’s better out than in.
  12. Cut off any “friends” that believe you’re lazy, not trying hard enough, etc.
  13. Limit your time with people who drain you.
  14. You’re not alone but you’re also not unique. Everyone has sh*t to deal with.
  15. Let go or be dragged, as the old Buddhist saying goes.
  16. Wear clothes that make you feel confident.
  17. Avoid fictional drama and tragedy like the plague.
  18. Simple exercise, if possible.
  19. Depression will lie to you.
  20. Reach out to someone.
  21. Forgive yourself.

This list is just as relevant now as it was the first time I read it and I hope that it’s helpful for you, too.

Time passes and I know that feelings come and go, but sometimes it’s really hard. I acknowledge each feeling and do my best to let it pass.

How I felt however long ago isn’t who I am and I do not have to act upon intense feelings and emotions.

Our feelings and emotions are our own and I don’t judge them as right or wrong. It’s when they exceed your ability to take the high road that you need to keep it in check.

For me, that means reaching out to old friends, seeing my therapist (not anymore), and adhering to a consistent sleep and eating schedule. I avoid going on social media, where the risk of comparison is just in your face.

Carefully cultivated feeds are just that, designed to evoke something akin to perfection, which we all know doesn’t exist.

I also avoid sad music, even if it’s low and in the background.

Oh! Speaking of, one of my professors told me of this amazing song that’s scientifically proven by neuroscientists to reduce UP TO 65% of your anxiety. Hey, I’ll take ANY percentage. 

I find this to be relaxing and it also helps me focus, especially when writing blog posts like this.

Please hang in there with all the insanity and ignorance out there and use your discerning judgment and bullsh*t meter to sort through all the nonsense.

We’re all in this together, from 6+ feet apart.

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