Control in the time of “Chaos”


Not one of us chose to be in the middle of a global crisis, right? Yet, we are all experiencing a major shift in our daily routines and overall lifestyle. This is difficult, but maybe especially difficult for those who live with specific mental illnesses. This perceived loss of control can lead to increased anxiety levels, intrusive thoughts, and depressive symptoms due to a  more sedentary lifestyle. As humans, we like “to know” things. This certainty provides us an illusion of having control over our environment. Maybe we’re realizing we really enjoyed the normalcy of our lives, and the “chaos” of the unknown doesn’t feel too pleasant right now.

How can we lean into our discomfort?

Name it!

What are you feeling? A Feelings Wheel may help you to name your emotions. It is also helpful to identify the physical sensations and thoughts that accompany these emotions. Although, we cannot control our emotions, but we can manage them. We have a lot more power of our emotions when we put them out in front, rather than hiding them behind a mask or how we prefer to be seen.

Sit with it!

Don’t judge emotions that arise. Know that emotions are not good or bad. They are simply energy in motion; get it, emotion. Let them flow. They will come and they will go. Although some emotions may feel unpleasant, we can find comfort knowing that this too will pass. If “fear” has decided to come visit today. You are still in charge. “Fear” can come along for the ride, but “fear” does not get to drive.

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Emotions come and go. Let them flow in and back out again.

Shift it!

We do not have to react to the emotion. Once we acknowledge the feeling (name it), identify it as nonthreatening (sit with it), then we can begin to decide how we would like to respond rather than reacting (shift it).

Here is a list of ways you may shift unpleasant emotions:

  • Reframe thoughts that preceded the emotion.
  • Choose to engage in an activity that calms you:
    • Deep breathing
    • Grounding
    • Meditation
    • Listening to music
    • Journaling
    • Connecting with a supportive person
  • Create an appropriate boundary if the emotion was a result of someone else’s behavior
  • Try a healthy coping mechanism that you identify before the unpleasant emotion arising:
    • Take a break
    • Have a healthy snack
    • Engage in mindful movement, etc.

If you try these strategies and find you’re still struggling, CAPS 24/7 is available for UNC students at 919-966-3658. CAPS is also offering 2 digital support groups: a support group for UNC undergraduate seniors during COVID and a support group for any UNC student during COVID.

 

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