The year 2020 is certainly going to be remembered as anything but a “normal” year. In fact, many people would just as soon forget about what has happened so far.
Jeff Herring’s recent meme shows Doc, the eccentric professor with the disheveled hair in the movie "Back to the Future," saying to his young protégé, Marty, who’s getting into the DeLorean time machine, “Rule No. 1: Never set it to 2020!” That about sums it up for many people.
We often find that people are experiencing more stress and anxiety in their lives than they normally would. They are asking, “Is it ‘normal’ to feel this way?” “Are other people feeling the same way?”
Everybody reacts to stress differently. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who went on to become a world-famous psychologist, said, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.” In other words, it would be very difficult to react “normally” to some of the horrific results of the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd and the riots.
Some predictable reactions to the abnormal events of 2020 could include the following:
- Addiction to media coverage to the point it interferes with everyday life.
- Preoccupation with what happened and what might happen.
- Feeling uncertainty and a loss of personal safety.
- Changes in health behaviors, including sleep, eating and exercise.
- Increased emotionality, such as grief, rage, fear, helplessness or pessimism.
We all can see some of these reactions happening in our life and it’s not comfortable. So what are some strategies to get back on track? Here are a few that might be helpful.
Of course, we want to take good care of ourselves with adequate sleep, good eating and exercise. You might think this is a “no-brainer” and yet it is harder to do when life and schedules are upset. So set priorities and schedules. We realize it’s so easy for the tummy to grow silently, when we aren’t even aware, until we try on that pair of shorts from last year.
To feel less stress, we can use psychological distancing, which means trying to put some distance between oneself and the event. One way to do that is to become the observer where we imagine observing the events from a distance by looking down on them, like from a hot air balloon. We are safe and hovering overhead but not caught up as closely in the emotion and turmoil of the event.
Another way to distance is time distancing, which causes us to recognize that there have been other pandemics and other societal upheavals and people made it through those times. Thus, we will make it through these tough times, too.
It’s also important to find that balance of staying current with the news but not watching it obsessively. Also, try to find positives even in the negatives.
Allowing acknowledgement of emotions, but not dwelling on them, helps to keep perspective of reality. We feel sadness about the turmoil as maybe you do also. As coaches, we do assessments for individuals and businesses. When we take these assessments ourselves, both our profiles show that we enjoy when we can “work together” along with others. We see how divided our city, country and the world is becoming. This adds to the feelings that it will take a long time for everyone to recover from these situations and work together.
We need to realize there is hope in the people who bravely keep doing their jobs, like our first responders working to protect us and keep us safe from harm. Also, there are volunteers who are providing shelter, and bringing food, clothing and supplies to those in need.
We see people helping to sweep up and rebuild where damage has been done. We know that there are many good people out there in our communities and there’s a beginning of working together. Thank you! It’s helpful to look for the light of hope and keep praying for the best results. Like the saying that hangs by our office door, “This is the beginning of a new day!”
What about you? What effects have you felt from the combined situations we are all experiencing? What thoughts and behaviors are most helpful for you to make it through these times? We know it is difficult and we have listed some ways to make it a bit easier. We encourage you to let us know your thoughts.
Remember, by being as “normal” as possible in abnormal times, we can work together to make the rest of 2020 a much better year.