Hi all! In the wake of horrific national and world events of late, I’d thought could share some wisdom from my years of a mental health professional. These are a few tips that have helped me cope and my clients cope with ill feelings. Some work better than others depending on the person.
One: remember nothing is permanent. This is a staple of Buddhist teaching, but applies just as well to everyone. No matter how bad things are, they will change. The flip side of course is that if things are going well they will change too. The important lesson is to not be too attached to whether things are good or bad and just see them for what they are.
Two: statistical regression toward the mean. Sounds like a crazy geeked out math concept, but in reality things cannot be extreme for very long. The tendency is for nature to regress toward the middle or towards stasis. If things are extremely bad, the tendency is for them to go back towards the center. Again if things are extremely good, the same thing will happen. The “SI (Sports Illustrated) curse” is a good example. If someone is on the cover of SI, then tend to fall from grace as one cannot maintain extreme greatness for an extended period of time according to statistics.
Three: do what needs to be done. Even during extreme grieving, people can still do dishes, take out trash, feed pets. It isn’t as easy as when things are good, but doing what needs to be done can distract us from our ill feelings and still give use a sense of order in our chaotic lives.
Four: lower your expectations. Say like you get some bad news like a medical diagnosis, or lost friendship. Give yourself permission to not be your “best” while you are grieving, going through treatments, or taking care of grim business. By not trying to meet some high standard, you can allow yourself to be human and heal.
Five: take a media fast. When I read that special interests are using Facebook to divide the fabric of our culture, I take that as a clue that this is a toxic medium. In behavioral psychology, the most powerful behavioral schedule is the “intermittent behavioral schedule.” Examples are a slot machine and of course, seeing who “liked” your post on Facebook. It is a highly addictive medium. Studies are showing you have a decreased self esteem the more time you spend on Facebook and other social media. See if you can survive a day without Facebook and you will see what I mean. Try to limit your Facebooking to special interests instead of seeking controversy. Or get rid of it all together.
Lastly: say no. Saying no is perhaps the hardest thing to do for people as we want to please everyone. Saying no to things you don’t want to do frees up a lot of psychic energy. Saying no allows others to plan accordingly as you have given them a direct response.
Bonus: do the obvious. Take the day off. Get the pedicure. See the movie. Cancel the stressful plans. Spend 99% less time on Facebook and social media. And of course, practice your yoga!
Hope this helps some of you.