Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster
Hi, Practice families.
Another week has passed by. Let’s face it, sheltering-in-place has turned life into what feels like a never-ending blur (is it just me, or did this totally hit the nail on the head?! ).
I have a number of newsletter topics queued up, whenever I manage to get around to them– but at the moment, I’m basically accomplishing just the minimum necessary on both work and parenting fronts that will get me from one day to the next. So stay tuned, there is more to come whenever I have a bit more energy and bandwidth.
In the meantime, I wanted to reach out to tell you this: if you are feeling flattened, or find yourself riding an emotional rollercoaster, you are not alone. There are going to be days or moments or weeks that you struggle– and that is to be expected. I have had this conversation with clients, with our clinical team, with our bookkeeper. We are all in it, all riding these waves of energy and emotion and coping.
I’ve seen a lot of things online (and you probably have too!) about how this pandemic is an opportunity to learn new skills, exercise your creativity, etc. etc. etc. I’m here to tell you that one, those things are almost certainly put out there by people who are NOT sheltering in place with children, and two, it is OK if all you do today is make it through the day. Do not get sucked into feeling like you are falling behind or missing out if you are not your best, most productive self. Much like many schools are converting to pass/fail options for the semester, I would encourage you to try to apply a similar metric to your thoughts about your own productivity, work, parenthood, etc. It’s not worth it (or even feasible or reasonable!) to be aiming for an A+ in the middle of a global pandemic.
That said, this pandemic IS an opportunity in other ways– an opportunity to practice mindfulness and self-compassion, to tune in to how we feel, let go of our expectations for achievement and our inner self-critic, do things that meet our needs in any given moment (even if– especially if!– those things just involve sitting on the couch and/or taking a few deep breaths), and– most importantly– remind ourselves that waves of emotion come and they also will go. In another moment, or another day, you will feel a different way. This has always been true, but it is particularly clear or observable in this moment.
So hold on tight. Take it one day at a time. Observe what’s going on for you, and act intentionally to meet your needs. Know that all things change, and this will too.
P.S.– a few additional valuable resources on this topic!
- Elizabeth Gilbert says it’s OK to be overwhelmed (TED talk).
- Stop trying to be productive (New York Times)
- Burnout isn’t just in your head, it’s in your circumstances (New York Times)
- How to manage our own stress, anxiety, and frustration as parents(PracticeSF)