If you feel increasingly unable to deal with the emotional and mental burdens of these times, you are not alone. These disclosures are frequently happening. What is important to note is that there is nothing you are doing or not doing that has caused these feelings. Rather, your brain is doing exactly what it is supposed to do while attempting to process all that this challenging year has presented.
Your emotions, frustrations, lack of motivation, exhaustion are all a reasonable and understandable reaction to what is happening in your life and in the world. I am here this month to tell you how to silence your inner critic, because it’s likely that you are seeing other people’s highlight reels and feeling that they are coping better than you. That is probably not the case, and it is only making you feel worse.
Right now, many challenges are taxing our coping skills, and when our level of stress overwhelms our ability to cope, it sends us into a toxic and chronic stress zone in which we want to fight, flight (run away), or freeze. This is the perceived mental breakdown that people are experiencing. They are overwhelmed and their ability to handle things that they were previously able to juggle or process has changed. Distress levels are high, sleep is disrupted, brains can't turn off and the result is of course that daily ability to function is impacted.
Try not to despair, as this too shall pass. In the short term, here are four things you can do immediately to remedy your mental state.
Accept that you are doing the best that you can today and stop comparing yourself to others or to your past self. Set strong boundaries. It's okay to do less and say no. Your mental health needs it. This doesn't mean you don't care. It might be that you have been carrying responsibilities for your kids, family members, or in your job. By giving the responsibility back to others, it gives them the opportunity to learn and grow. Check in with yourself. If something doesn't feel right and you are chronically overwhelmed, resentful, or exhausted, ask yourself why? Once you know the issue you can problem solve and find a way through it. Most importantly, make time to identify and work through your feelings. We sometimes act like our emotions can be ignored so we can rush to meet the next challenge. Our emotions and mental health will find us even with our best attempts to thwart them, so we must make time to take care of ourselves.
**If you are struggling emotionally or have someone you know that is and their safety or that of others is at risk, please seek help from a qualified professional.
Sarah Lloyd is a licensed clinical professional counselor and co-owner of the Geneva-based Action Consulting and Therapy.