About two months have passed by since my family and I have been “Safer-at-Home.” When these orders were first implemented, I was so focused on the virus itself that I didn’t give much consideration as to how isolation would affect my Mental Health. In the beginning, staying home, felt fun and free. I was happy that my husband was home to spend time with the kids. But it didn’t take long before my husband, kids, the house, and eating the same meals got next to me.
Here is a snippet of the Mental roller coaster I was on the first few weeks:
Week 1: “This is easy, I got all this free time on hands. I don’t feel rushed, I can relax schedules. My mind feels free. This is a very pleasant change of pace. I’m saving a lot of money eating at home.”
Week 2: “I need to be more productive. Let me go on cleaning /organizing spree” (Three days into cleaning) “This house still dirty. I’m over cleaning, I’ll start a new show.”
Week 3: “When is this going to be over. I feel overwhelmed and anxious. I have nowhere to go. No time to myself, no outlet. I’m losing my mind. These kids cry too much. I have never spent this much time with my husband and it is not fun. Everything I eat all taste the same, I’m just going to eat air.” ‘
Week 4: “This feels impossible but I can and will get through this. This may be my “new normal,” I hate it, but I have to make the most of it. Everything I face in life is mind over matter. I am Stronger Than I Feel. I will be able to have different flavored food soon. Everything is going to be ok.”
It took me a few weeks, but I finally realized that it wasn’t being stuck at home that sent me into an emotional tailspin. For the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t constantly “busy” (besides parenthood). I had no errands to run, people calling for favors, or appointments to get to. I spent the first few weeks focused on surviving home, but once I stopped fighting for survival, I realized that there was no mask to cover my shortcomings as a mother, challenges in my marriage, and interpersonal battles. I had to face all the emotional holes that I once patched, but never took the time to repair, and the only way to do that was to rebuild the broken framework that I once believed to be a solid foundation.
Here are some practices/exercises I have implemented in order to stop Surviving Home, and begin to walk through my pain so that I can enter into health through healing myself emotionally:
In moments where I feel out of control and overwhelmed, I begin to pray. Prayer centers me and after I pray I feel renewed and strengthened. I begin and end my day in prayer. I even pray when I have wake up with my kids in the middle of the night. Life can often feel bigger than me, but prayer reminds me that I have the power over my life.
*If prayer is something you don’t exercise or believe in; I suggest a few short moments of meditation throughout the day.
Negativity surrounds us. We’re tuning in daily to listen to stats about people being infected by this virus and sadly dying. In order to live healthfully during this pandemic, we have to filter out as much negativity as possible. I filter out the negativity by logging off social media, turning off the TV, and avoid reading click-bait articles. But the biggest thing that I filter, are the people that I surround myself with and the children with. Whenever possible, I social distance myself from people (family members included) who forget that “mama always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I recently discovered freedom in laughter. I didn’t realize how much I was stifling my kids’ budding personalities by correcting everything they did. Until one day my oldest did something that was borderline hilarity and in need of discipline; and I opted to laugh. At that moment her demeanor quickly changed from bracing for the impact of discipline to being able to enjoy a moment with her mom and feeling free to be herself. It dawned on me at that moment how powerful laughter is. These days I find myself being able to laugh at everything from my kids’ behavior to my car breaking down. It may sound a little off-the-cuff to laugh at being stuck on the side of the road, but life happens, and it’s okay to laugh at the good and the bad because laughter pours light onto the dark roads we sometimes travel and allows us to see how far we’ve come even when it feels life has left us stranded.
Having an Attitude of Gratitude
This pandemic has shown all of us that life can hit HARD and quick. One day we can look up and everything thing we have can be gone. Kids grow up and move out, money comes and goes, and relationships are always evolving. That is why every day when I wake up, and before I go to bed, I remind myself of everything that I am grateful for. I will admit that I would complain about EVERYTHING, without even knowing it, but exercising gratitude helps me see life from a different vantage point. It helps me to slow down and appreciate everything in my life. Having an attitude of gratitude reminds me that even though my life may not be what I want its what I need, and my life could always be worse, but it’s not and for that I am grateful.
We are what we think and speak. In order for us to get through, not just this pandemic, but any hardship in life, we must first change the way that we think about a situation and how we speak to a situation. A positive affirmation can deliver us from a situation, while we are still in it. Affirmations tell our fears and doubts that they have to move out the way so that we free up space in our lives to be filled with happiness. Here are a few of my favorite affirmations:
“I am Stronger Than I Feel”
“I am enough as a wife and a mother”
“Failing isn’t Failure”
It’s not always easy to properly convey how we feel to others. Writing is my way of being able to express how I feel in the realist way possible. When I write I don’t have to worry about finding the right words to say or hurting someone’s feelings. I can write down everything I need to say in the rawest way that I felt it, without one rebuttal or invalidation of my feelings. Writing is a therapeutic way to help get out your emotions because when we try to constantly absorb our feelings, we get so emotionally full that one day all those emotions come squeezing out of us and onto things and people we never intended them to.