How are these violent and uncertain times affecting us emotionally, and what can we do about it? Some of our counsellors have been directly affected by the violence, their family homes threatened and businesses burnt down, and are left feeling helpless and fearful. Many clients do not want to risk public transport and feel trapped and anxious at home, hearing gunshots outside. Even for those of us not directly affected, old insecurities and fears can be triggered. From social activists, I hear a deep sense of disappointment and frustration. And feeling shaken.
When we are shaken our stress level is very high, we feel jittery and exposed. We may feel frozen and want to hide away, or strangely restless and disturbed. How can we feel less helpless, less stressed?
Instead of shaken, let us be stirred – to accept our emotions as valid, and then move to actively engage with ourselves and build our own sense of control, rather than hiding under the bed covers. Let’s start with actions that are calming. Use practices you know work for you – exercise, breathing, swaying and singing may be amongst those.
We cannot control the actions of others, but let us be stirred to choose to be present for others – reach out to friends and be a listening ear, lend support to those who are suffering now. This decreases our sense of helplessness, and connects us to our strengths. To help reduce both our own and others’ anxiety, share a favourite poem or tv show with someone you love. Hug your loved ones….tomorrow is a new day.