Did anyone secretly wish there would be a magic switch that would flip at midnight on December 31? Yay…2020 is FINALLY over! So much happened in 2020, surely the new year would bring new energy. However, as we had barely cleaned up the celebratory confetti, people around the globe saw the violent attack on the US Capitol, raising a whole new level of anxiety. Welcome to 2021.
Staying Calm: Talk to Yourself Like You Would Talk to Your Children
Your children have questions. Heck, YOU have questions. What is going on? Am I safe? Who is protecting us? Whether you are a parent or not, there is value in processing things in a way you would, were you to explain it to a child. Here are three things to consider:
1. Validate Feelings
Whether they are your own or your child’s, a first step is to validate that the images of mobs breaking into the capitol and resulting violence are really disturbing. Especially with kids schooling from home, most everything still being done from home, there is more time and sources to be bombarded with media images. Acknowledge that feeling scared or unsettled is a natural reaction or some when seeing images that feel traumatic.
2. Manage Your Media Coverage
Of course when something so serious is happening, you want to stay informed and watch the news. But watching too much news can also increase anxiety. Many news stations repeat clips showing things that happened days ago and that are already under control. However, seeing the traumatic image can still spike emotions.
Also, beware of speculation. It’s common practice for news anchors to interview experts to give insights on a world event. Listen closely, however, for questions like “What IF this or that had happened.” Often the interviewer is speculating on how bad things could have been if they had gone differently. That’s a good time to reset your nervous system by reminding yourself, “but that didn’t happen.” “We are safe right now.”
3. Follow Positive Thoughts
This is not about literally following people on social media who share positive thoughts. It’s about acknowledging your own. When Congress reconvened later that same evening, did you find yourself agreeing with people from across party lines? Follow that feeling. By the end of 2020 public discourse had become so binary. How refreshing to see that we share common goals. And how often do we tell our children or peers that a difference of opinion is healthy. You may not like what someone says, but they can still be your friend.
The silver lining, as we move from 2020 to 2021, is recognizing how strong you are. Stop to embrace three things you are proud of from the past year, in the face of so many challenges. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and get ready for a reset. 2021, here we come. And, if you notice persistent signs of anxiety, such as disruptions in sleep or eating patterns and difficulty focusing, just hit reply and see how we can help.