CAITLIN JOHNSTONE: “How To Effectively Cope With Your COVID-19 Anxiety”

As 2020 gets crazier and crazier, emotional self-care is getting more and more important. A lot of people, especially the “plugged-in” types who like to pay close attention to what’s going on in the world, are getting into some looping stress patterns over the COVID-19 pandemic that are unnecessary, unhealthy, and unhelpful.

It’s an understandable web to get tangled in; there are all these alarming news stories and statistics pouring in every single day, many of which speak of dangers which may pose a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of ourselves and our loved ones. Some people spend hours online combing through all the latest information they can find about this thing, and as they’re doing this a tremendous amount of stress builds up in the background of their experience, ultimately culminating in depression, panic attacks, angry outbursts, substance abuse or other unpleasantness.

You see strategies for coping with this increasingly common problem everywhere online, from common healthy stress management techniques like deep breathing and meditation, to escapist claims that the virus doesn’t pose any real danger, to many people simply unplugging from their news feeds altogether. What people aren’t talking about nearly enough, in my opinion, is the simple yet highly effective practice of consciously feeling your feelings.

You wouldn’t think “feel your feelings” is something that needs to be said; it sounds not just like common sense, but like something that happens automatically without your intention or permission. We’ve all experienced emotions we’d prefer not to experience if given the choice, so we assume emotion arises unbidden like a force of nature.

While that can certainly be true, a tremendous range of our emotional spectrum is often blotted out by a basic lack of emotional attentiveness. Our culture tends to encourage us to put all but our loudest emotions on the back burner and focus on other matters, and Covid-19 happens to feed into that dynamic especially well by giving us a bunch of sparkly news headlines and statistics to focus on while this low-level background anxiety slowly builds unnoticed.

Feelings need to be felt. Not acted out on other people, but felt. They’re like small children; if you just give them a cuddle, let them cry and listen to their grievances they feel better in a few minutes, but if you deprive them of attention they’ll start acting out to get it.

At some point between childhood and adulthood, most of us consciously created strategies to stop our feelings from coming up unbidden. At some point, crying in front of your peers became embarrassing and you learned how to stop it from happening. Most of us never thought to take down those defences after they were installed. Some of us have never even re-learned how to cry again. Letting your feelings flow again will take a conscious effort from most of us.

No matter how much mantra repetition, deep breathing or positive affirmations you do, unless you’ve felt those feelings all the way through you’re just wallpapering over the actual issue. A huge percentage of the anxiety that people are currently experiencing is just a big backlog of feelings that need to be felt.

For some of you, just reminding you of that will be enough. Put down the phone and quietly meditate on it until it bubbles up. Hold your feelings like they’re a little baby newborn. Let them happen until they’re all the way done.

Others might need to try out some different strategies. Here are some of mine.

First, I always check in with my body. Am I clenching anything? Hands, bum, tummy, forehead, jaw? What else is happening? Is there background nausea, or a lump in my throat, or is my heart thumping too hard? I investigate. Close your eyes now and try it with me. Scan around for a few minutes.

Try tapping around with the tips of your fingers on one hand of the areas that you identified are tight. You’ll find spots that are a little bit sore. They feel like a light bruise. Tap on those spots for a little longer until they release. Once you’ve done that, let your fingers tap round your body and find other tight spots. Do this for at least a few minutes.

As you’re doing this, the loud buzz of anxiety releases and the actual root feelings become more clear. Sometimes all you have to do is feel them. You will probably feel embarrassed to feel them. That’s just one of the layers of defence you put in all those years ago. If it feels stuck, use your theater improv skills to exaggerate and try some feelings on until you find the source feeling. Feel them all the way through. Sometimes they feel their way to the other side, oftentimes they end abruptly with a burp, the shakes, a yawn or some other release.

If that doesn’t work, I usually hop up and do a very easy qi gong sequence a dear friend of mine taught me years ago. I think any kind of repetitive energy movement would do though. Basically I do the same movement over and over again with my eyes closed. Once the energy is moving around the body I can sense areas of blockage. I just keep looking at them until I’ve fully seen all the parts of it and then it releases, usually by a big expression of feeling like a roar or something, that usually ends in dry retching.

I know I’m done when I’m at zero again. I don’t stop until I feel totally at peace. I think that’s important to note because some people really get off on having big feelings and having their big feelings all over everyone else. Sometimes people want other people to “own” their feelings. Rather than feeling them, they try to make other people feel them by proxy. They’re usually referred to as drama queens.

The point is to release the feelings so your natural peaceful zero point can shine through again. You are the sky, the feelings are weather. Identifying as the weather will mean you are invested in keeping the weather going. Identifying as the feeling will mean you will be invested in keeping the feeling going. Set the intention to let it speak to you, and then let it pass. That’s where health is.

A lot of people are saying that the fear of the coronavirus is more damaging than the virus itself. I think that’s true, but not in the way they mean it. They’re often trying to say that the coronavirus itself a nothingburger and the fear is being used to manipulate us. I think the virus is a real thing, and also our fear will be used by ourselves and others to manipulate us. We need to clear a path to inspiration by feeling through our feelings and getting back to zero as often as possible. This will help us in the big picture by seeing what’s happening and responding with grace, and in the micro by keeping our immune systems in full relaxed readiness and not tangled up, tripping over itself, fighting ghosts and in panic-mode.

Do the internal work and the external work will follow. This is how we save ourselves.

 

~via Caitlin Johnstone

‘NAVIGATING TUMULTUOUS WATERS’ ~ Caitlin Johnstone: “2020 Is Going To Get Much Crazier — Prioritize Your Mental Health”

As I said back in November, things are going to get weirder and weirder throughout the foreseeable future. We’re coming to a point in history where the only reliable pattern is the disintegration of patterns, and 2020 has come storming out of its corner swinging for the fences working to establish this pattern with extreme aggression. We’re not going to hit a point of stability or normality this year, we’re going to see things get crazier and crazier and crazier. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know it’s going to be nuts.

In such an environment, it’s going to be absolutely essential to take exceptional care of your psychological health if you want to remain engaged with what’s going on in the world in a positive way.

And I do mean exceptional. Whatever you’re doing now, do more. Start cultivating new habits to keep yourself lucid and serene, and start now before things get super crazy. Work out your issues with your family and with yourself. Remember to move your body in ways that feel good to you. Carve out some time out each day for just being quiet with yourself. Notice the beauty around you. Give cuddles, get cuddles. Take a shower and sing your heart out. Feel your feet on the floor, nestle your bum into your chair and listen to yourself breath like it’s a song on the radio. Yawn. Belch. Stretch. Roar. Put on some loud music and rock out. Whatever you know works for you to get you out of your head and back in to your body, remember to do it, and remember to do it regularly. Make it habitual.

Be proactive with this rather than reactive; if you wait until you have to react to things going ass-side up later on it’s going to feel like you’re fighting to get your head above water. If you do it now you’ll have the mental space needed to navigate tumultuous waters.

This is what will be necessary if you want to engage with the increasingly frenetic narrative matrix in the future. The only alternative will be to disengage completely and throw your attention into escapism, or at least away from politics and news. And if you don’t make the cultivation of mental well-being your first and foremost priority you will be forced, in a very unpleasant way, to disengage anyhow.

And honestly this is something all activist types should be doing anyway. Believing you can help the world without doing serious inner work is like believing you can clean the house while covered in raw sewage. You can always spot the political activists who engage without doing any inner work by the chaotic, unskillful and frequently counterproductive form their actions take. They can’t see clearly enough to operate efficaciously, because their vision is clouded with unresolved suffering and conflict. Get in the shower and wash the yuck off yourself before trying to clean the house.

Above all, be gentle with yourself. We got a ways ahead of us, and we need you fresh and feeling good. You won’t be able to help wake the world up if you let the chaos and confusion drag you down. Know when to take a break from the information stream and all the babbling narratives trying to twist your perception of it. Use your tools to distance yourself from the narratives so that you can perceive them objectively. Ground yourself, find your center, then, when you’re ready, wade back in.

No matter how chaotic things get, your ability to navigate that chaos skillfully needs to be your first and foremost priority. Put your mental well-being first, and everything else will fall into place.

Be the peace and harmony you want to see in the world.

 

~via Caitlin Johnstone

MARITSA PATRINOS: “15 Easy Things You Can Do That Will Help When You Feel Like Shit”

maritsa-patrinos-art

1. Get a drink of water.

Get a drink of water.

You could be dehydrated! Your body needs water. Not juice, soda, or alcohol — get a tall glass of water and make yourself drink all of it.

2. Make your bed.

When you have a lot to do and it feels overwhelming, making your bed can be the first step in getting your life on track. It will also (hopefully) discourage you from getting back into it.

3. Take a shower.

Take a shower.

Life feels different when you’re clean! And it can give you a burst of energy if you’re feeling lethargic. Wash your hair and give yourself a head massage.

4. Have a snack — not junk food!

Did you eat enough today? It’s super tempting to eat junk food when you feel like crap. If you don’t feel like making a whole meal, maybe eat just a piece of fruit; something you can burn throughout the day and not in a burst of five minutes.

5. Take a walk.

6. Change your clothes.

Even if you aren’t going to leave the house today, put on real clothes. Or, if you’ve been wearing the same uncomfortable clothes all day and feel restless, change into your sleepy clothes and slippers and relax.

7. Change your environment.

Change your environment.

Staring at the same four walls day after day can be drudging. Can you work from a cafe, a library, or a friend’s house? If you can add going somewhere to the list of things you did today, you may feel more accomplished.

8. Talk to someone, not on the internet — it can be about anything.

If you don’t feel like talking through your troubles, that’s OK. Visit a friend, talk to them about a movie you saw. Call your mom and see how she’s doing.

9. Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.

Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.

NOT ELLIOT SMITH! Pick something high energy and bump it. Dance like a rock star for one song to get your blood pumping again.

10. Get some exercise.

Do some cardio, work up a sweat. If you don’t have the time for a whole workout, look up a sun salutation on YouTube and stretch for as long as you have time. Do some push-ups or sit-ups at your desk.

11. Accomplish something — even if it’s something tiny.

Accomplish something — even if it's something tiny.

Do you need to grab some groceries? Schedule a doctor’s appointment? Reply to an email? If you can’t get to the big stuff on your list, focus on the small stuff, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself for getting something done.

12. Hug an animal.

If you don’t have a pet, can you visit a friend’s? Or can you go to an animal shelter?

13. Make a “done” list instead of a “to-do” list.

Make a "done" list instead of a "to-do" list.

Instead of overwhelming yourself right now, start feeling better about what you did get done. You can add “brushed teeth,” “washed dishes,” or “picked out an outfit” to your list. It doesn’t matter how small the task, prove to yourself that you’re effectual.

14. Watch a YouTube video that always makes you laugh.

I personally recommend this one.

15. Give yourself permission to feel shitty.

Give yourself permission to feel shitty.

You’re allowed to have a shitty day, and you don’t have to fix it all right now. If you try to fix it and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Give yourself the time and space you need to feel what you’re feeling.

~via HowToExitTheMatrix.com