We are in the middle of troubled times.
For once, I am not sure if life is speeding or has come to a standstill.
We’re home-bound (trying our best to not step out unless it is very important).
We’re closely following the news feed.
There’s plenty of time and opportunity for us to connect with our dear ones like we are forever wishing, yet something is amiss.
I can’t help but feel alone and stuck with my thoughts.
Most of them are full of terror, panic, anxiety and pessimism.
And to make things worse, anytime I try to distract myself by logging in on any of the social media channels there’s so much tension and panic that I have been feeling better off staying away from the Internet.
As a caregiver to the elderly parents and a single parent to my kid, the scene at my home fills my mind with non-stop worry as the situation is getting graver by the day.
When the quarantine/ self-isolation phase began, I wasn’t all that worried.
Being an introvert, who works from home, I felt confident that being asked to stay indoors wouldn’t disturb my life much.
How wrong I had been.
The first few days went on pretty smoothly.
Though my lifestyle had me in the practice of staying at home for most hours, the minute a restriction to going outside was attached to it, my mind started freaking out.
But worrying, feeling stuck or not finding a way to get my mind in control is really not an option for me.
I believe, you too are in a similar situation.
Even if you’re working from home and are around your family and children, you must be having your own struggles in this chaotic phase of life.
To break free from the loop of negative emotions, I decided to do the one thing that has always…always…always worked like a charm in helping me heal and find connection with like-minded souls.
To blog all about what’s going on in my mind and life. And I’m sure this is going to span over a series of blog-posts.
In the past year or two, I have been actively working on my emotional well-being.
And in this process, I have inculcated practices like writing down all my thoughts to get a better understanding of what’s causing me grief.
As expected, all my pain and worries have their roots in my mind rather than what is going on in the world.
I have never stopped being amazed by this finding time and again.
Our mind is programmed to constantly look for danger to keep us safe and alive.
It encourages us to try to run from everything that makes us feel uncomfortable.
That’s quite what my reaction has been.
Responding to dangers with the fight-flight-freeze reaction.
Feeling almost paralysed with fear I have been struggling with focusing.
I’m constantly spiralling on the what if’s.
I’m failing to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m failing at feeling relaxed despite having a list of things to be grateful for.
Do you feel the same?
It is as if my mind is overworking at projecting all the areas of my life I need to work on.
The projects I had been slowly working on, now need to be rushed given the uncertain times we’re living in.
Amidst the uncertainty and chaos, the pressures to succeed and make it well on the other side is immense.
How I’m Cultivating Positivity Amidst Chaos
I have a handful of strategies that always help me feel relaxed.
They are everyday tasks that are powered by familiarity and certainty.
The daily mood lifter that helps relax my mind and tense muscles to keep me going all day.
I find reorganising stuff, therapeutic. It doesn’t always have to be a closet or a whole room.
Sometimes re-arranging my work desk or a chest of drawers helps too.
♥ Re-reading books
In times of stress, I like to seek solace by reading a book I have enjoyed or found thought-provoking. Treading in a familiar territory helps calm my mind like a new read seldom can.
♥ Staying away from the NEWS feed (within reason)
I have only a handful of apps on my phone. Only Instagram among social media apps.
I have all notifications turned off and it has helped me stay sane from a while (close to 3 years and counting).
But, my family is obsessed with the news.
Even if I have shut my eyes and ears to the constant blast of scary updates, my family is constantly discussing it. And no matter how hard I try, their disappointment at how the pandemic has been handled rubs on me.
♥ Actively practising gratitude
I have been journaling more than I usually do.
Recounting all the blessings I have helps, but it has been taking me a lot of deliberate effort to see the good in these troubled times.
I know, gratitude and an abundance mindset are powerful mindset tools.
But in these difficult times, having faith in the abundance has been tough.
Much of my scarcity mindset has been triggered by the hoarding happening around us. While I have been expending a lot of energy talking sense to family and neighbours, I can only do so much.
I am struggling but I am sure I’ll get there soon.
♥ Checking on my family and friends
Having extended family in corners of the world badly hit by the pandemic has been triggering terror like never before.
One of my cousins is currently in the last trimester of pregnancy and is based in Europe.
While we are in constant touch with her and have regular updates on her safety.
Her positivism and the way she has been handling the stress levels have been a source of inspiration for me.
♥ Spending quality time with my daughter
The added time of togetherness (owing to school holidays and being home-bound) has been a blessing in disguise. I have been spending it mainly talking about a wide variety of topics.
Sharing childhood memories, snippets of my life when I worked overseas, my life with her father, what it means to be a girl in the world we live in and so much more.
♥ Following my routine as closely as I can
My mind loves certainty and a familiar routine.
This is why even during school holidays, I continue to wake up, eat and sleep at fixed times.
Even when I’m homebound, I try to keep our schedule running like any other day, to get a feeling of being in control of the situation in some ways.
♥ Processing my emotions
Feelings of terror and panic aren’t regular emotions like sadness or anger.
Still, all emotions and feelings are valid and part of normal human experience.
“Just Think Positive Thoughts” is an advise that has never worked for me.
This is why I spend a lot of time following this simple practice (that I do in writing).
I have talked about it here too:
a. Notice (like a spectator) what your mind is saying right now.
b. Is the thought helpful?
Is the thought, helping you live by your values?
I do not meditate but I strongly believe in the relaxing power of a breathing exercise.
Want to give it a shot?
Alright, let’s do it.
If you are sitting, put your feet flat on the floor.
Put your hands down at your sides.
We’re going to take a breath.
I want you to close your eyes.
We’re going to take three breaths.
I so often forget to pay attention to my breathing that I often catch myself feeling out of breath whenever I’m panic struck.
Have you noticed this?
That’s actually probably always the case, but especially in the times, we are in.
Breathe in through your nose.
Fill up your lungs all the way until it hurts a little.
Breathe out through your mouth.
We’re going to do two more.
Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth.
In through the nose, out through the mouth.
See I told you, blogging always makes me feel relaxed.
I’m beginning to feel brighter already.
c. Give your thought, feeling or memory a name.
d. Try to say the name you gave it aloud.
Try talking aloud to yourself about it.
This is the interesting bit. The minute I start speaking about the thought or the feeling, my mind gets busy correlating it with something I had seen or read along its lines.
Perhaps something funny, interesting, exciting or amusing.
And the more I repeat this step, things get simpler and familiar.
Have you ever felt that someday you’ll look back at this and laugh?
Why not make that someday, today?
Almost always I can notice a smile rise to my lips because I begin feeling at peace with having this thought or feeling.
The power of the thought, the tension it had been building inside me seems to be dissipating.
You can often turn the most stressful aspects of a situation into the funniest by spotting their absurdities.
Go ahead have a laugh and share it with people closest to you to add laughs and lighten the mood.
e. Step (d) doesn’t always work. In that case, opt to let the thought or the feeling exist.
Don’t fight it.
Don’t resist it.
Just let it be.
f. Do what you have to do (guided by your values, not the thought or the feeling)
By the time you reach this step, our thinking brain is free from the spell of fight-flight-freeze reaction.
You are now able to see sense and decide consciously instead of reacting mindlessly.
In such chaotic times, the one thing that works best is doing the things you’ve always had faith in.
Positivity is more about focus and faith than a quick fix magic trick.
“Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time.
It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones coming.”
Have you been struggling to find hope and positivity in these troubled times?
Download your copy of the FREE eBook ~ 21 Steps to Build a Positive Life
This eBook is packed with do-able action steps that have worked well for me over the years. You’d be delighted to note that many of these steps are already a part of your daily life.
It’s just a matter of a shift in your perspective to help you see them boost your positivism than being a mere chore.
Download your free copy here –> 21 Steps to Build a Positive Life
The song on my mind: Is mod see jaate hain ~ Aandhi