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This is triage, not treatment

I read A LOT of advice this week. Clients are sending me articles they enjoy reading like this one or this one or even this one, and I love every one of them. (Thank you for sending them—please keep them coming.)

There are all kinds of messages out there about how we should be responding. Some of them helpful and some of them painful.

My thoughts have been all over the place these past weeks. In many ways, I feel like our dog, Watterson—every few minutes I am thinking and “squirrel!” I find myself on to the next thought. So to focus myself when I sat down to write this today, I thought, “What is the message I want to hear?” And this is it.

There is A LOT coming at us. So much we can’t possibly process it all.

I keep hearing this is the time for the great awakening, the time when we are going to heal the world by staying at home and dropping the hustle, and when this is over we will come out whole again. Oh, if only it were that simple. If only staying at home could heal all the wounds. First off, this is not a sabbatical or a vacation; this is a scary, terrifying time.

The idea that we are going to emerge from this more united and full of love is a lot of pressure to handle things differently. Anytime someone refers to this as the world’s great healing time, I want to scream. True healing does not take place in isolation. It is not something you can force on people. True healing requires a desire to heal and going into the messy muck, recognizing all of our old patterns and old coping mechanisms and figuring out new ways to move through them. True healing is freaking hard. It requires safety and security and is not something the majority of us have the bandwidth for in the midst of so much pain and uncertainty.

There is the macro stress: the news reports, the knowledge that people are suffering and over-whelmed. The financial stress, the vast unknowns, and the sense that no one really knows how to best handle this situation.

And then there is the micro stress: our day-to-day lives. Living through one of the most stressful times in our lives and not able to commute, run to the movies, go out to dinner, or escape in our work. We are trapped in our houses with family or friends, along with their coping mechanisms that usually don’t match our own. For example, when my nearest and dearest is stressed, he becomes more passive, sleeps more, and has less motivation, whereas I am the direct opposite with my push push push mentality.

Bottom line: This is a HARD TIME. It is understandable your old anxiety coping skills aren’t working anymore or working for as long anymore.

It is okay to be scared, insecure, anxiety-filled, and freaking out.

It is okay if you revert to distraction and binging Netflix rather than feeling all the feelings even though you know that has been helpful in the past, but there are just too many damn feelings right now!

It is okay if you aren’t feeling anxious, if you just can’t go there right now.

It is okay if you are filled with grief, mourning your old life, sad about the activities you or your children are missing.

And it is okay if telling yourself this is the great awakening makes you feel better and gives you hope.

What is not okay? Telling yourself you are doing it wrong or that you should be feeling differently.

This is triage not treatment, people.

Be kind. Be loyal to yourself and those you love.


New on The Happier Approach podcast

There is one thing almost everyone does when their anxiety gets high—they avoid. Whether it’s through food, alcohol, social media, or money, we avoid.

All this month I am talking with experts in these areas and pulling back the curtain on our avoiding ways and how we can make small, manageable changes to bring intention to our lives.

This week we’re kicking things off with national investment expert and financial coach Jacquette Timmons to talk about money, which often goes hand in hand with avoidance, especially for those of us with High Functioning Anxiety. This conversation couldn’t have come at a better time. While I think anytime we can intentionally talk about money is good, right now, with the current state of the world, this conversation is even more relevant. Check it out on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or over here.