The Slippery Slope of the Mind
Disclosure: I am not a trained or educated mental health professional. This article represents my own personal journey as I healed from my own challenges. If you are under a doctor’s care, all decisions made for your personal health should be discussed with your medical or health practitioner. The exercises and the links provided are all non-invasive and have experiential examples of success for thousands of individuals. If you have or know of a friend or loved one who suffers from severe mental health issues, is suicidal in any way, or whose well-being is threatened by mental health please reach out to https://www.mhanational.org Mental Health America, https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help. You can also get immediate assistance through Suicide Prevention Lifeline https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ . Another option when in crisis is to text 741741, where a live, trained Crisis Counselor responds quickly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.
Real Life Stories — When Life Changed
The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/11/opinion/coronavirus-2020.html) put out a question to its readers and published 27 stories. Below is a sampling from the report and represents a wide range of ages. These are short real-life moments, what I reflected as being a hybrid of Haiku. Flashpoints that perhaps represent something familiar for each of us. Whatever we “thought” life should be changed in an instant for some, over time for others. It is with all certainty not the same a year later.
I had concert ticket to see Hayes Carll on March 11. I was weighing in my mind whether I would attend the concert if it wasn’t canceled. Then it was. I mark March 11 as the day the music died and a bit part of my life was taken away. Paula Blanchette, 61, Retired, Portland Ore.
When I had to cancel my wedding and move out of my university apartment. Monique Driedger, 21, Marketing consultant, South Carolina
I went to the grocery story on March 13 to pick up a few items in case people started panic buying. The panic had already set in. When I walked into my normally quiet hometown grocery store, many shelves were empty. The checkout lines wrapped around the store. I thought to myself, “Everything is about to change.” Leslie Lawhon, 35, Homemaker, Middle Island, N.Y.
I’m a middle schooler in New York City. On the last day of in-person school, while waiting in the cafeteria for the bus to take us home, we were all anxious. We joked that we might not see each other again for a year. A friend’s bus pulled in. We elbow-bumped, and that was when it really sank in that today might be the last day I see my friends in person. Online school started next Monday. It was my birthday. Elonora Fusi, 11, Student, New York City
When was your moment?
Traumatic Experiences Impact Us
There was and is no playbook as we face the uncertainty in this once in a hundred-year pandemic. Trying to anticipate or figure things out mentally is a futile act. Answers do exist but are mired in doubt; doubts that feed not only our physical unease, but fuel real and imagined fears. There are those who are fortunate to have mental health care professionals in their corner, or may have supportive and understanding family members and friends; but some feel ridiculed for the choices they make or how they feel, others guilty, others deeply sad as they try to navigate the current “new normal” on their own. Nothing about now is close to “normal.”
During the year of COVID, there has been an uptick in mental health symptoms among the general population. Even those of us who felt quite sane and balanced have felt everything from fear, sometimes compounded by anger, and/or depression and/or anxiety. This has left many of us with sleepless nights, short tempers, and in the very least feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed, or bitter for what we have had to endure. For what we have had to give up. For expectations we had to abandon. For decisions made for us. For the sorrow of giving up family celebrations and holidays. There are no easy answers, but there are simple things we can take advantage of to ease our deep angst. This is critical as we begin to move back into our lives with any sense of peace and confidence.
Below are some things to consider that have worked for me. Think of the ideas as an experiment, for a chance to step outside the box as we all learn to cultivate a new “normal” in the midst of this unfinished story we are living. A willingness to become an explorer in self-care may deliver a cargo of golden peace to your life. Resources for each of the suggestions listed in this article are listed in the body as well as the end.
The Proven Value of Releasing Trauma Within our Physical Body
It’s all about shifting mental thought processes that for most of us creates false fears (False Evidence Appearing Real). Once a person can connect with present time (where in most cases danger does not exist) decisions can be made that tend to be favorable. It is so easy to become distracted and unaware when we are afraid, depressed, or trying to navigate a plethora of conflicting information that streams across our “smart” television and/or phones. Without awareness, our own safety and rational logical way of being is compromised. Our “smart” devices are not always that “smart” since they can only provide information, and not always accurate information. Using them as a research device and nothing more allows us to gather data but should not dictate our decision-making process, but only guide us as we become more and more aware of our surroundings.
The Importance of Awareness aka Mindfulness
Consider a car accident as an analogy. Most accidents are caused when a driver is distracted or thinking about something else. But when a driver is present, they can see the road ahead and take necessary precautions to avoid being caught in an accident. When faced with what I call “healthy fear,” the body releases cortisol and adrenaline so we can take necessary steps for survival. When fear is imagined the same chemicals stream through the body but can never find a release. An over simplified explanation is these chemicals become stuck and instead of releasing them the mind will keep spinning the false fear, creating increased stress, anxiety, and even TSD (traumatic stress syndrome). Healthy fear is necessary and vital in real time application. It alerts us to what is in front of us in the present time, not what we think will be an outcome in a future we cannot know. Using the car accident, we might swerve to miss the oncoming car or slow down to avoid being caught in the accident. Being able to react, in real time, reassures us we have what it takes to survive danger. It is simply impossible to feel safe or release the fear when anticipating an unknown future.
Healthy fear allows us to play the odds in our favor, so we are better equipped to know which path is correct for us.
Our bodies hold tension. Doctors and science tell us that stress is harmful to our bodies. News streams, social media links, personal conversations, families divided and broken over ideological perspectives have all added to levels of stress and fear, compounding whatever fears we already have and adding them to fears/concerns that would be normal in a worldwide pandemic. We are all swimming in toxic soup right now.
Available Help for Stress and Anxiety
Streaming Apps such as Calm https://bit.ly/2ONuatF and Headspace https://bit.ly/2QkIJFG provide wonderful exercises to calm the mind. (Google has information on both and provides links so you compare the two.) But while removing ourselves temporarily from stressful situations may help, we can’t stay continually connected to these streaming messages. The good news is we are built to handle our challenges. In the next two article you will find some other things to consider adding to your mental health regimen going forward, simple exercises that can build up your mental/emotional muscle just as effectively as a hard sweaty workout in a gym increases your physical dexterity and strength.
The Tapping Solution
The Tapping Solution is a method that can be safely practiced in the privacy of your own home. Access to the information, clear and concise videos, and plenty of free and readily available information is available if you own a smart device or home computer.
Here is informatin taken directly from from Tapping.com that describes this technique:
Tapping, otherwise known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology. Tapping, otherwise known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology. It was developed originally by Roger Callahan in the 1980’s and modified and expanded upon by Gary Craig. Since then, thousands of psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, coaches, and individual users have adopted this powerful technique for use on themselves, their clients, family members and more. This simple technique literally involves “tapping” on the meridian points of our body while saying certain statements, all with the goal of reprogramming the brain and body to get different results. EFT has been known to work for years by psychologists, therapists, coaches, and everyday people. In recent years, a major push has been made for more evidence-based research and the results have been astounding! Clinical research studies with EFT are providing impressive results in a variety of areas such as relief from chronic pain, emotional problems, addictions, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, athletic performance, PTSD, and among other things…yes…amazing results with weight loss!
My personal experience with the Tapping Solution was positive and helped me navigate some of my own early life emotional trauma. Messages I had swimming around in my mind, messages that locked me into my own anxious thoughts, finally stopped running my life. It may sound overly simple, but so many things in life that work are simple. This is an easy, ready to use safe exercise as you follow their instructions. I have used this in the car when traffic was making me late. I have used it when I was concerned for a family member. I have used it during COVID. It released me from trying to control things, to thinking that somehow, I could control things. It brought me back to myself, back into the present moment. I became what I like to call “body aware” as my body relaxed. Combined with breath and some positive affirmations, this is a gem that can be life changing.
For information or to explore what it can mean for your positive mental health and well-being, visit https://www.thetappingsolution.com/keep-tapping/.
One of my favorite fables is of a tormented individual who makes a pilgrimage to seek guidance from a wise person. “I am faced with a horrible dilemma and I need your guidance,” the tormented person says in a pleading voice. “I have two wolves who live inside me. One is vicious and wants to destroy everything in its path; the second is a reliable and kind companion who offers to walk with me in my life in friendship, compassion, and love. Please tell me, which one will win?”
The wise man listened intently, and then responded.
“The one you feed is the one who will win.”
If COVID has taught us anything, it has taught us that we cannot know the unknown and that we cannot control the uncontrollable. While fear is a natural outcome of what we have faced this past year, all we can do is rise to meet the challenges it has brought to our doorstep. The virus that spins the globe, this tiny invisible tyrant, is invisible and has its own timetable. Like a tornado, or a hurricane, or a storm at sea, there is only one option for any of us … and that is to ride it out as safely as possible within our own given circumstances. With storms comes sorrow and loss for some. There is no way for an aching heart to heal except for the grace of time. There are not enough tears, or words, to make it all right for over half-a-million people in the US, over 2.73 million world wide.
If we have survived thus far, the fears we feel can be tamed by bringing our attention back to the present moment. What my life experiences have taught me is that hardships cannot be avoided. There were things I simply could not sidestep or stop from happening, nor could I stuff the feelings that arose out of my own need to survive physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually when faced with hardships.
There is, however, another side of sorrow and fear. It is possible to light a path in the darkness, even if the light only illuminates the next small step that is ours to take.
Love yourself during the challenges. Be kind and compassionate with your anxieties and fears. Doing so will change you, give you courage, and offer hope to others by your example.
Until tomorrow … stay safe, love yourself, and take care of yourself and each other.
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ Suicide Prevention Lifeline
https://www.mhanational.org Mental Health America
Candace George Conradi is a published author of inspirational books, articles, and poetry. She is a practitioner of Human Design, a system that offers its users a way to navigate and make decisions in life that support their unique path. As a Human Design certified Living Your Design guide, she helps others map out a clear path for living life authentically and without guilt. You can visit her page at www.lydlifemap.com or her author page at www.candaceconradi.com. For questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.