The current public health crisis surrounding coronavirus has contributed to a lot of uncertainty across the world, and with that, there has also been a rise in negative emotions – stress, fear, anxiety, boredom, confusion, uncertainty, just to name a few. Additionally, many of the places we frequent that bring us joy and pleasure are closed. It would make sense then that many of us are finding ourselves binge-eating cookies, drinking more wine, or engaging in other types of addictive behavior that we may have sworn off of in the past.
It is our natural tendency to run away from these feelings and negative emotions and to turn to addictions to distract us away from feeling badly. In the moment, it may feel good or offer you an escape from stress or other negative emotions. But I do want to remind you that in the long-run, these types of behaviors will only make the negative feelings even worse. Not only are we stressed about the virus, but now we are upset that we have a hangover, or gained weight, or find ourselves hooked back in to an old vice.
The solution is, and has always been, to acknowledge and allow those crappy feelings. This is how I lost 40 pounds and kept it off, how my clients have stopped over-drinking, over-eating, or kicked addictions such as watching porn.
We have to be willing to give space for these unpleasant emotions. Right now that is especially difficult to do. Suggestions of social distancing in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus have left weddings canceled, travel coming to a screeching halt, sports performances ending abruptly, and so forth. So many of our pleasures have been put on hold, and many of us are going to continue to feel badly as a result.
So what can you do to cope and stay sane during this uncertain time?
This, my friends, is an opportunity to get reacquainted with ourselves. To acknowledge what we are feeling and allow ourselves to experience it – without running away. At their core, emotions are truly just vibrations in our bodies caused by our thoughts. While they often feel terribly uncomfortable, it is important to remember they cannot hurt you. What can hurt you, on the other hand, is falling back into negative patterns or habits that can set you back.
If you are feeling lonely, bored, isolated, stressed, anxious, or uncertain, remind yourself it’s okay to feel this way. It is okay to feel it in your body. Give it the space it needs to be there without running away or using negative methods to distract yourself from feeling any of the things you are feeling.
This is where your power lies and where you can move towards love and away from fear during this crisis.
What does it mean to allow space for and sit with your emotions? Here is a great graphic that I found illustrating how to feel:
If you are struggling in any way to cope with this pandemic and don’t want to add more stress to your life by engaging in addictive behaviors, please reach out. Remember, all of my calls can be done virtually on Zoom or Skype, or over the phone.
This can be an amazing opportunity for you to take some time to do inner work. I will continue to be here to support all of you during this uncertain, yet extraordinary time.
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.