Today we would like to explore ways to uncover and manage some emotional experiences. As a country, we have moved through the initial shock and denial stage of the pandemic where jokes were circulated on social media platforms. Now, facing reality and the impact of COVID-19 on our lives, living conditions and livelihoods. In this process, everyone has tried to deal with the effect of the changes in their lives, mental health, work, school, and family perspectives. Every effort was to the best of people’s abilities, trying to keep their heads above water.
Traversing from lockdown levels 5 to 4 to 3 have occurred with various experiences of inclusion and exclusion, control and helplessness, compliance and resistance, relief and tension, and justice and social and structural injustice. Some families and friends stayed together, and some have returned to their dwelling, leaving people with a feeling of social and emotional isolation, not just with physical separation. Citizens became upset with one another, developing an “us and them”, an ingroup and outgroup, with building tension and annoyance.
Where people elected to reside brought its challenges, these include the potential for conflict and disagreement and even continuation of abusive relationships in some households. Real pressure cooker conditions! In some cases, people grew closer to one another, and the value of relationships emerged as key to coping effectively with the situation. Other family members, living abroad and in other provinces may offer unique challenges due to travel restrictions.
During this time, some of our loved ones died due to natural causes and COVID-19 related illnesses. In some situations, people were not with their loved ones due to geographical travelling, hospital and nursing homes restrictions. Grief experiences are intense and sometimes extended due to funeral restrictions and memorial services extensions.
These conditions are ideal for inviting a kaleidoscope of emotions to visit us. Some of these emotions we could name Uncertainty, Worry, Anxiety, Frustration, Anger, Sadness, Isolation, Grief and many more. Key to dealing with and managing emotions is to identify the emotions, understand the message that the emotions bring, and to take responsible action.
There are several important reminders. We are not our emotions; we are only experiencing them. People stand in a relationship with their emotions. Imagine emotions as an energy that move through you. It is almost like the waves of the ocean, coming and going. In dealing with your emotions, consider being kind, compassionate and non-judgmental towards yourself and others. Emotions are emotions, they are neither positive nor negative, they are what they are, and they are changing.
We do experience the intensity of the visiting emotions. Emotions are visitors that would like to convey an essential message to you. Take the time and find out what the message is. First, identify and name the emotion. Some say if you can name an emotion, you can tame it. That helps us to move into the position of standing in a relationship with the emotion. Embrace emotions by inviting the emotion for a cup of tea. Ask the following questions to the visiting emotion, for example, “Anger, what is it that you would like to tell me?” “What would you like to remind me of?” “What is it that you don’t like me to forget?” “What would you like to teach me?” Take notes of your discussion with the emotion. Thank the emotion and send the emotion on its merry way. Decide on the appropriate and responsible approach to responding to the emotion.
In situations where people bottle up and suppress their emotions, it provides ideal conditions for an overflow which could have detrimental consequences on our relationship with ourselves and others. Experiencing overwhelming emotions may result in hurtful and unhelpful choices.
Moving back into the workplace and school environment, we do expect that stress, anxiety and burnout may increase. Speak to your loved ones, a trusted friend, your medical practitioner, a counsellor, a psychologist and psychiatrist. Remain connected and reach out for help.
If you notice a friend that is suffering in silence, encourage them to seek professional help.
I invite you to identify your emotions, embrace them, and take responsible action.
If you need emotional support and counselling do not hesitate to contact me,