Changes and conflict happening in our world impact each of us in unique ways, causing strife and uncertainty. This can leave us feeling unsure of what to say, who to say it to, and how to find support. I don’t keep it a secret that I am the parent of an LGBTQ young adult. This has been a rough week for me, full of uneasiness and fear of the future. I’ve spent time reflecting on how we can navigate these sometimes-overwhelming worries and still be productive workers, good parents, loving spouses and caring friends. I believe the answer is in the balance between sharing your feelings and managing your stress and containing your feelings when you need to. This is called emotional regulation, and it is a skill you can get better at with practice. How do we navigate these sometimes-overwhelming worries and still be productive workers, good parents, loving spouses, and caring friends?
I believe the answer is in the balance between sharing your feelings and managing your stress and containing your feelings when you need to. This is called emotional regulation, and it is a skill you can get better at with practice.
Sharing Your Feelings
-Identify people to share your unedited thoughts and feelings and make time to talk.
I have a knitting club. We mostly eat and talk, although sometimes we talk while knitting. These women are my best friends and I know that I can speak honestly about my worries with them. Don’t have the equivalent of a knitting club? Think of other people or groups that could serve this purpose. Ministers, an older relative, another mom whose child is with yours in preschool, your brother, or a good therapist.
Manage Your Stress
-Develop a Coping Tool Chest.
In the therapist world, we talk about “solution-focused” and “emotion-focused” coping. Solution-focused coping is for when you can problem-solve, or act and it will help your situation or the way you feel about a situation. Brainstorming solutions, removing yourself from situations, finding small or large ways you can act are all examples. Emotion-focused coping are for times you can’t impact a situation. Exercise, meditation, hot baths, and talking to friends are all examples of emotion-focused coping. In my experience, most problems I have faced lend themselves to both types of coping. Need help developing a Coping Tool Chest? Contact your primary care doctor or a local therapist for help.
Contain Your Emotions
-Learn ways to put your emotions aside so that you can do what you must do.
I have always struggled to compartmentalize and envied people who seem to be able to do it well. Let me be clear that I am not suggesting you stuff your emotions and never feel them! I am suggesting finding ways to put them aside when you need to so you can function. When you are regularly sharing your feelings, this is easier to do so that is my first suggestion. Other containment strategies are keeping a journal so that you can write down your worries and then put them aside. This is about the only way I can get to sleep at night. Scheduling a time to worry and only allowing yourself to “doom scroll” and read info about your worry during that time every day. Practice mindfulness so you can get better at staying in the present.
Our world is a very stressful place to be right now. Don't be afraid to ask for help!