We are now one week until the 2020 Election. Between this economic crisis, a pandemic, and ongoing social movement, it feels like our mental bandwidth can’t take much more even if we’re eager for the finish line. This is the most important election in history and we’re all feeling it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling underwater for a while and now it feels there are more depths to fall as we approach the climax of our tumultuous year.
Over the weekend, I sat down with Melanie Dyer, LPC, to record an episode for our mental health podcast, “But, Have You Considered Therapy?” We took a collective breath and discussed what this has been like for us and what we’ve been feeling from the people around us. In this episode, Mel reviews what she’s doing for herself and what she’s advising for her clients during this time.
Mel is preparing herself and others by creating a list of coping strategies she will use next week. She’s taking some time for herself while she’s in a calmer place to write down what will help get her through depending on what state she in and what she will need. While I’ve done this before in my head, it was a newer revelation to me to actually write those things down. My PM brain kicked in. How can I document this? What’s the best way for me to prep and to help others prep? I went to my PM coping mechanism – post-its and spreadsheets. In the episode, Mel and I come up with a framework for creating this list:
I created a shareable spreadsheet you can use to help prepare yourself for next week (and any stressful situation that might be coming up for you). You can populate columns or add your own. The activity should be a short description of what you want your future self to do. Adding a time commitment is also important so you have an end time. You might be searching by time if you only have a short window for an activity. “I will need this if I feel…” is good to ground yourself in the current feeling you know you will be grappling with. These don’t have to be negative feelings; you might also list what to do when you’re feeling happy or relieved.
If the thought of populating a spreadsheet creates more anxiety for you, you can always do this in a notebook, post-its, Word doc – whatever will be easier for you to do and refer to.
While there’s so much we cannot control around us, we can control how we react and what we do for ourselves (and in return the people around us). We must hold on to these coping strategies that make us feel good; we can talk about unhealthy coping at another time. For me, it comes down to moving my body in a pleasurable way, drinking water, eating foods that fulfill me physically and with all my senses, and relying on my support network. You will get through this and you have what you need to get through this. Give yourself this gift and prepare as much as you can for when that lizard brain kicks in.
Disclaimer: Please do not use this as a substitute for mental health services. I am not a licensed mental health professional and Melanie Dyer is not your personal therapist.