How to cope with anxiety and uncertainty during a crisis; how to feel relief for depression during self-isolation and social-distancing; and why this is a perfect time to practice radical self-love.
In an era of stimulation addiction, why is now the perfect time to connect with your self and practice self-love?
“To self-love is to treat yourself with kindness, compassion and care.” In the experience of self-love, you learn to rely on yourself for what you need and for feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.
Acts of self-love remind us that we are responsible for feeling loved and for how we will become self-sustaining and self-sufficient. This is also how we reclaim our power.
If you have been relying on others for social gratification, validation and acceptance; and if you measure this by the number of likes and followers on social media; or the attention that you procure on dating sites as the mechanisms for feeling positive about yourself, it can become an addiction.
The constant behaviour of looking externally for what brief moments offer relief, comfort, and a false sense of self (because you are determining your worth and value based on another’s opinion or perspective); keep you from finding yourself.
The ever-present distraction of looking to others to help you feel comforted, safe, and ‘good enough’ takes you away from looking within; and for relying on your self for calming words, reassurance and a consistent inner voice that reminds you that you are never alone; and that you can be your greatest source of support, companionship and love.
Self-acceptance is a facet of self-love. It is being willing to see the parts of you that are incredible and deserving of your attention and love; and to work towards the positive expression of how you can feel whole by embracing all of you; including the parts that you seek to improve and change.
This is a perfect time to embrace being with yourself; to seek out ways in which you can feel secure and comforted by your own words; and to rediscover and reclaim who you are.
When you are quiet, alone with yourself and fully present, you will be able to hear your inner voice rise up. This will remind you that you are not alone; that you have never been alone.
The solace and comfort that you will feel comes from connecting with yourself during times of crisis; when you feel anxious, scared, or sad; but also as you practice living in awareness of this inner voice.
This is what I call awakening; being attentive to your inner voice – the voice of your highest self – and what you may witness as your intuitive knowing. This ‘voice’ is always going to feel calm is comparison to the anxiety and fear that is felt when you are focused on a problem or a worst case scenario.
When you are reacting in crisis, you are focused on the various problems of your situation as well as future thinking of what “might” or “could” happen.
All of this exacerbates fear, anxiety, and depression.
You calm yourself most quickly by returning to the present moment; by seeking the truth about what ‘is’ and for mobilizing yourself towards what is wanted rather than be held hostage by your emotions and the thoughts of worry and ‘the problem’.
You abate fear when you focus on what you have control over and as you seek to create solutions that will effectively help you.
How Do You Best Cope with Anxiety and Stress During This Difficult Time?
Anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness come from focusing on what is not wanted.
- A first best strategy is to focus on what you have control of and to mobilize yourself towards what is most wanted. Ask yourself, “What do I want?” and also, “What is the best possible solution that I can work towards?” Next, do what is needed to bring you your desired outcome. Anxiety and fear can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness and depression. When you are proactive and take the steps to manifest what you want, you become empowered; as you teach yourself to focus on what is possible and desired rather than remain immobilized, because of fear, sadness, self-doubt and anxiety. This may be a new best practice for you, and one that will help you throughout your life, as an effective means of addressing situations that appear to be less than ideal.
- A second and immediate strategy for mobilizing yourself away from fear, anxiety, and helplessness is to return to the present moment. Find your focus in the present. Begin here. Be present in whatever you are doing (e.g. whether taking a walk in nature, working, organizing your closet, cooking, eating, etc.) Practice living mindfully and in the present moment as much as possible, and as you create strategies and solutions that mobilize you in positive action. Let present moment awareness be a best practice for how you live life. Remember, anxiety and fear cannot exist when you are focused in the present moment (and as you make decisions in the present for what positive action you are willing to take). As you aim to live focused on each present moment, you will find it easier to remain attentive and engaged when you are with others.
What Does Depression Feel Like?
In depression: (1) there is no joy or pleasure in life; (2) concentration and focus become more difficult; (3) everything feels hopeless (that there is no way to feel better); (4) self-esteem is low (you feel worthless or like a failure, you dwell on negative experiences and are unable to see the positive qualities in yourself); (5) energy levels are low and you feel unmotivated; (6) food may not seem appetizing or it may be used as a source of comfort and to cope.
Depression can feel more severe than emotions that come and go. It can be situational if it is a short-term form of depression that occurs as the result of a traumatic event or change in a person’s life. (for example, losing a job, a change in a person’s life, a global health crisis such as COVID-19). Situational depression can magnify the intensity of life stressors and can cause severe disruption to daily living.
Previous life experiences can affect the way you deal with stress. You are at higher risk of situational depression if you have:
- gone through considerable stress during childhood
- existing mental health problems
- several difficult life circumstances occurring at the same time
Biological factors can also increase your risk for depression. These include:
- abnormalities in brain structure and chemistry
- hormonal abnormalities
- changes in genetics
Clinical depression is a form of mental illness that can cause long lasting and severe feelings of sadness, hopelessness and a loss of interest in activities. Clinical depression is more severe than situational depression.
It is also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It is severe enough to interfere with daily function.
The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) classifies clinical depression as a mood disorder.
Disturbances in levels of certain chemicals — known as neurotransmitters — may be to blame.
However, other factors are likely to play a role, for example:
- genetic factors may influence an individual’s response to an experience or event
- major life events can trigger negative emotions, such as anger, disappointment, or frustration
- alcohol and drug dependence also have links to depression
Depression can also alter a person’s thought processes and bodily functions.
How Can Someone Cope with Depression?
Use this best practice to help you mobilize yourself into positive action; and to become self-reliant on your inner locus of control. Ask yourself, “What can I do to feel better?” and “What steps can I take right now?” It’s important to take action. Even a small step will move you closer towards how you want to feel and highlight for you how it is a choice.
Use Cognitive Behavioural Strategies that teach you how to examine and challenge your thoughts. This is an effective way to remind you of what is actually true and how what you tell yourself and believe, may not always be accurate.
We sometimes forget that happiness is a choice. If you are suffering with depression, it will require effort and work to alleviate symptoms. It’s also important to mitigate the underlying causal factors of the depression.
For depression in particular, there is numerous (science-based) research which suggest that therapy and self-help strategies are far more successful than medication alone. If you practice choosing happiness, then you are reminding yourself to decide how you want to feel and to mobilize yourself towards what will allow you to feel content, peaceful and happy – now.
Some immediate help for depression is to reflect on a positive experience, to curate a new positive experience, and to remind yourself of what you are thankful for.
The decision to find and experience your innate happiness will always help you move from how you currently feel; into new feelings that offer relief and comfort such as: contentment, calm, ease, and ultimately happiness.
This time in your life is like no other. You are being challenged to do for yourself what you may have been relying on others for. If you never learn self-love and self-acceptance; how will you be able to rely on yourself for feeling calm, soothed, and nourished? Without self-love and self-care, how will you find positive ways to alleviate anxiety, fear, depression, and loneliness? Self-love and self-acceptance translates into resilience, autonomy, freedom and self-sustainability.
Your mental well being is based on what you are able to do for yourself.
Likely you already know of and have self-care and self-love practices that you can come back to; to live from as daily life practices that will sustain you during this time and always. And if you would my help in establishing new ways to effectively care for, accept, and love who you are and who you are becoming, please reach out to me.
Dorothy is a Registered Psychotherapist, Meditation Teacher, and Host of The WISDOM podcast. She works with clients in-person and via video and phone sessions. For more, please visit dorothyratusny.com
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