This material was written by a Dallas College professional counselor. All views expressed in this piece are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dallas College.
COVID-19. Shelter in place. Quarantine. Protests. Riots. Second wave. To mask or not to mask? Gloves or no gloves? Wipe and disinfect — how often and where? Seeing mainly my family, but 24/7? Work at the office or work from home? And I’m taking college classes on top of all that? Without ever seeing or meeting my instructor?
You got it; these are difficult times indeed!
So, how do we get through anxious times like these? We might start by remembering the old Serenity Prayer:
Grant me the Serenity (Patience) to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage (Strength) to change the things I can change
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
Let’s take these in reverse order. I know that I can’t control everything in my life, but it’s hard to accept those limitations on a day-to-day basis.
It would really help to be clear about what I can really affect and what I can’t. Example: I can’t control how fair my boss is; I can control doing my best at my job. I need to focus my time and energy on those things I can affect. This will sometimes be hard and will take a lot of discipline, and I’ll need to make myself work on this every day. I will only be able to do this if I don’t waste my time and energy worrying or complaining about those things I can’t really control. Focusing time and energy on what will make things better for you is good sense.
You can do things that help you stay calmer. Good physical activity for 20-30 minutes a day kicks off chemicals in your brain that relieve anxiety (running, brisk walking, dancing, weights, aerobics, machines, rubber bands, sports, etc.). Find things that relax you like music, sitting in a favorite place that’s quiet, hot bath or shower, meditation or prayer, walking.
There are internet resources that can be helpful to try, like:
- 40 Ways To Relax in Five Minutes or Less
- How To Relax: Tips for Chilling Out
- 20 Ways To Relax and Unwind
You might find that if there’s nothing to worry about, you will find something. If you solve one problem, then you look around for another problem to think about over and over — to overanalyze. Or maybe you can’t let go of things, and nothing really works to relax you for long. If you see some of this in your life, it might be a good idea to talk to a counselor, who can help you work on that.
Our new normal doesn’t really feel that normal, does it? Don’t let the stresses and difficulties of an unusual time drive you to be overanxious. Try these practices above, and remember, it’s okay to say you’re not okay. That’s why our team is here to help!
This post was written by Jesse Gonzalez, a professional counselor at Dallas College Mountain View Campus.