6 Strategies to Help You Navigate This Dysregulating Time
Mar 23, 2020
Is anyone else trying to put into words their experiences over the last few days and weeks?
Here’s my attempt…
New words have floated into our lives:
Online remote learning
Somehow, these words carry a lot of fear. I am seeing it play out in my office (now virtual office), my home, my social media, my local schools, and my news feed.
As a mental health professional, my job is to hold the space for dysregulated humans as they work through whatever it is that brought them through the door to my office. When the entire world is dysregulated, that’s a whole lot of space to hold.
Here are some tools I’ve been using:
- Limit your news intake. It’s very difficult to consume so much news all day long. It’s hard on our brains. Plan a time when you will look at the news. Limit it. Then, do something regulating after you’ve read or watched the news.
- Focus on what’s happening in the NOW. Stay in the moment. This is a long-standing practice for people who practice meditation. It’s a critical skill set to have during the current state of affairs. If it’s difficult to do, start with your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? Then, think about the events that occurring in the room you’re in. Who’s with you? What are you doing? What do you need to be focused on? Don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles.
- Do what you can control. We try to control our external world (the world outside of us) when our internal world is dysregultated. So, we have to figure out what we CAN control. Make a to do list. Give yourself concrete tasks that you need to accomplish. Then, when you feel the most dysregulated, you can look at the list and choose something.
- Hunt the good stuff. To be fair, I borrowed this strategy from my Resiliency Training in the US Army. It means search for the positive. We have positive things happening all around us, even as we go through this historic time. Find the littlest things that are positive, and focus on them.
- Remember that we are creating a memory for our children. Whenever I sink into the weight of creating a memory for my kids, it really brings to the surface what is important…connection, relationship, and experiences. Take a moment to reflect on how you WANT this experience to be remembered by the children in your life. I have some work to do on this. I know I need to focus less on the online school and more on the playful experiences.
- Be intentional about who you are connecting with and make connection a priority. We have so many opportunities to connect with others through technology. Can you text? Zoom? Do some group Google Hangouts? Commit to connecting with other people DAILY. For your kids, if they have adults in their lives that they normally see regularly, but cannot, then, see about creating Tech Dates with those individuals.
Here’s the bonus tip. Hold on though, it’s REALLY complex.
For those of you who are feeling emotionally activated and struggling to get grounded, I want you to stop what you’re doing. Breathe. Notice your body. Then, think of your little self. Oftentimes, in moments of stress, the little parts of ourselves are triggered. When we stop to notice those little parts of ourselves, we can honor their experience and then give them what they need. Does our little girl self need reassurance? Does our little boy self need a hug?
So many of us grew up in a space and time where our emotional needs were not met. Thus, as adults, we get triggered and regress. In those moments, we need to give our little selves what we need. By doing this, we calm our triggers.
For those of us who are parents, this exercise can also help guide us on what our kids need. Sometimes we do not know what to give them because we never had it ourselves. However, when we pause and recognize what was missing in our childhood, we honor and accept that in ourselves and we can then give it our children.
Whew! I know that was complex. Yet, we do not have time to NOT do this work. We must be doing it, right now, in these hard times.
You are not alone. I’m in this with you. Just as human in this messy process as the next person. I’m digging deep each day to practice what I preach.
Sending you copious amounts of love during this season.
Go Be You,