By Sarah DeMaison
It is difficult to focus these days. Whether it is social media, the television, radio or even…oh look, a squirrel!! Our minds race away or our minds don’t go anywhere and simply race in circles. Some days we just do not know if we are coming or going.
Tragedy strikes. It strikes again and again and again. What is happening in our country and in our world?! We have had some major tragedies within our nation. Horrific and terrifying injuries and death. Maybe you find yourself on social media, continually reading and re-reading the same stories over and over. Maybe you hate social media and watch the news instead. Maybe you are confused or scared; perhaps petrified due to the overwhelming feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, fear, anger, resentment, disgust, horror, anxiety. Intense emotions can begin to increase and once again our minds start to race into outer space.
STOP. Please just STOP. It is okay to just stop everything. Turn off the television, get off social media, turn off the radio and do not read the newspaper. The chaos is not going anywhere but we need to figure out how to get these horrible feelings to either calm down or go away all together. Perhaps thoughts from past horrifying events you have witnessed or experienced personally or globally can begin to return. In the meantime, what can you do to help? Focus on taking care of yourself.
Just a few suggestions to help you or anyone you know.
- Ice. Grab a piece of ice from the freezer. If your thoughts start to rocket into outer space and you are feeling you are out of control with thoughts or beginning to feel out of control just grab a piece of ice. You are not alone. This will work, I promise. If you are panicking and afraid, grabbing a piece of ice and holding it in your hand will immediately bring you back to the present. I know it sounds “crazy” but it works. I suggest this to a lot of individuals I work with. You will at some point realize your hand is cold or water is dripping through your fingers.
- Sing. Turn on music and sing along out loud. Everyone can sing. It does not matter if you “think” you can sing well or not. It is impossible to think and sing at the same time. Even if you want to sing 50 rounds of “row, row, row your boat” (yes, you are now welcome because I am singing it as I write this!).
- Journal. You might hate it. Just do it. There is no such thing as try. I always suggest to individuals, whether their minds are racing or not, to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, pencil, marker or crayon and just start writing. Don’t worry about punctuation. Set a timer if you must, but for at least 10 solid minutes (if not more) just write every single thought running through your head. It does not matter what the thoughts are. It does not matter if the thoughts make sense. Even if you want to write about the color purple or you cannot think of anything to write; just start. Don’t worry about run on sentences or anything. It does not matter because no one will see it. It is the process of dumping thoughts while holding a pen and writing it down will eventually bring you back to the present. Personally, I am a tangible type of person. I have to hold something in my hands. It makes things more concrete and real. A lot of people, not all, are the same way. A computer will not have the same effect as the “old fashion” paper and pen or pencil.
- Color. For over 15 years I have suggested this. It doesn’t have to be an adult coloring book. If you search for coloring pages online you can print them out. Coloring helps with control and it quiets the mind. You can choose whatever colors you want and you don’t have to stay inside the lines. Think about watching a child color. Are they talking? No, usually not because they are just simply focused on what they are doing, which is coloring.
These are just a few suggestions. Eventually I will be giving more suggestions but these are just some an individual can do just about anywhere. It is to give you a start. We all must start somewhere! Let me know how they work!
To contact Sarah directly with questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.