Know you're not alone

As I engage and connect with folks on a deeper level, one thing has been pretty consistent, we’re still on an emotional rollercoaster that doesn’t seem close to stopping. It can feel like emotional whiplash.

We’re all at different places in this collective emotional experience. People are reporting feeling things they’ve never felt before, as life has changed dramatically in a short period of time. 

Some people are impatient, just wanting life to return to normal. Others are praying we don’t return to the way we were living life before, hoping the pace of life can remain slower, and we can each take the lessons the pandemic has taught us.

It’s been a confusing, frightening, lonely, exhausting, and anxiety-provoking time for many. Grief, along with its many faces, is still a prevalent emotion for many people. This mixed-bag of emotions further isolates us, if we don’t know what’s happening.

Some people are questioning their sanity, others are exploding in angry outbursts, and some are withdrawing. 

Store clerks, who are risking their health to keep us supplied, speak of people being rude and abusive toward them. Spousal and child abuse have increased, anxiety and depression, as well as overdose and suicide rates are also on the rise. Relationships are strained, as feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and frustration accumulate, only adding to the difficulty.

For some, feelings of anxiety and concern are heightened as more businesses and services are allowed to open, while the need for social distancing remains in place. 

Masks or no masks? Gloves or no gloves?  I hear people expressing frustration, anger, and doubt as rules change to accommodate what we learn about the virus. The level of uncertainty and change is stressful.

We even have emotions about our emotions, as I’ve heard people express fear, shame, or guilt for what they’re feeling. This only adds to the emotional stew we’re in. 

In a society well-practiced in suppressing uncomfortable emotions, it can be incredibly difficult to know how to support ourselves and one another. 

Thinking you’re the only one who’s experiencing challenging emotions further isolates, and complicates matters. Knowing there’s no right or wrong way to feel is important. 

With so much out of our control right now, it’s important to focus on the things we can control; to remove focus from what we can’t do, and plan for what we can do. 

I’ve found mindfulness essential in supporting myself and others. Learning to turn toward what I’m feeling, and not judge it or suppress it, has been essential. 

It doesn’t mean that I act out of my emotions, but that I’m aware of what’s bubbling up inside of me. It’s not getting lost in the story of the emotion or needing to start to blame others for how I’m feeling. Learning to turn toward the feelings that are arising, and becoming aware with self-compassion, and simply breathing until the feelings are not as intense, is helpful.

Acknowledging where we each are at emotionally, and knowing that emotions change and shift day to day, sometimes moment to moment, is important.  Knowing we’re not alone and other people are experiencing a whole array of emotions, allows us to relax and often allows the intensity of the emotions to ease.

Stay out of the ‘what-if’ spiral of thought, and focus on the present moment, and what’s real right now. When a big wave of emotion arises, come to your senses; use your senses such as sight, touch, sound, or taste to anchor you to what’s real now.

Consciously breathing, slowing the breath, and feeling it as it enters and leaves, soothes our nervous system and invites the thinking part of the brain into action.

Take care which social media sites you’re visiting and how much time you’re spending on them. 

Stay connected with helpful people, even while maintaining physical distancing. Take care of your body and your spirit. 

Be discerning of the type of people you’re connecting with, because emotions are as contagious as the virus. Connect with supportive people, and let people know how you’re feeling, really feeling. You may be surprised to find out you’re not alone, and connecting with others, in a real way, brings comfort.

Please seek professional help if needed, and know you’re not alone. 


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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