Uncertainty is the opposite of routine and often causes us to perceive it as a threat. Human beings tend to thrive in routine with smaller breaks of uncertainty. Routine allows us stability in forecasting what our week, month, year, etc will look like. The Coronavirus has brought uncertainty on multiple levels. Our daily, monthly, and now even yearly routine is affected by continuous changes and people are becoming depressed. Evaluating your routine is a great place to start creating a sense of certainty in our day. Routines allow us to brace against uncertainty and have a semblance of control within our daily lives. Ask yourself. Do I have a routine? Do I like it? What are three small changes I can make in it to create more control or happiness in my day?
Isolation in the real or felt sense is detrimental to our mental health. Human beings are interdependent creatures and thrive in environments where multiple levels of intimacy are met in a deep and shallow sense. A good way to think about it is to visualize ourselves in the woods by ourselves coming into the night. I’m guessing for most of you this evokes a feeling of vulnerability and fear. When this feeling is evoked whether we are by ourselves or simply feel alone is simply a signal that we are feeling isolated. Just as we are vulnerable in a physical sense when truly alone we are also vulnerable in an emotional sense. We can begin to gauge our felt sense of connection with some basic questioning to get us started. What connective conversations have we had in the last week? Who would be nice to talk to? Or what is a way I can get started with creating connections? Connecting with family and friends can sometimes feel like a chore that we are not paid back for. Remember that its okay to struggle with this and every person is worth the basics of human connection.
Levels of Control
An externalized sense of control rather than an internalized sense of control is a hallmark of feeling depressed. Human beings thrive in environments where there is an internalized sense of control and manipulation of our physical and relational environment. We communicate our wants and needs and expect to a certain degree that they will be met. With such an intense global event many people are feeling their internal sense of control has been taken away or deeply challenged. Let’s think for a moment. What in my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly life do I control? How can I focus my energy around those things? This is important due to the increased amount of anxiety and depression that has been fueled by unregulated viewing of the news and social media. I would never advise a patient to become fully disconnected. But I have seen the rise in anxiety and depression due to viewing negative news and commentary that we simply have no control over. Ask yourself. Do I feel better or worse after viewing social media or the news? How much do I need to look at it every day? Could limiting my time benefit my overall mental health?
We are in unprecedented times and the entire team at Integrated Health Systems wants to do our part by stepping in and helping our patients brace against the uncertainty we are all experiencing at large. If you or a loved one is struggling to manage their emotions at this time, please reach out for a consultation.