By Mary Cucarola – 6/6/20
“Balance is not something you find, it is something you create.” ~Jana Kingsford
I contemplated for a long while what to write about in my blog this month with everything being so crazy right now. I thought and thought about it until I finally decided to write about that craziness and ways to cope, especially for those who are dealing with an addicted loved one during all of it. It is important to be reminded of the importance of self-care and life balance, so I am going to write a series of blogs about these for the next few months.
A regular dose of calm would be good for me and everyone right now. I feel overwhelmed and bombarded with coronavirus, social distancing, shut-downs, protests, 24/7 newsfeed, social media angst, and by the end of the day, I am emotionally worn down. It is like living in a state of constant nervous system overdrive.
I read somewhere we are consuming more information than we can process and it is setting off a fight-or-flight response for many of us.
Also, I’ve found posting political opinions on social media – a strategy we use to comfort ourselves – can backfire, given the strong feelings people have about the current issues. I try not to do it much anymore, unless it relates to my addiction non-profit’s concerns and issues. There is a 2018 Ford Trends Report that found nearly half of Americans have experienced tensions with their family and friends due to political differences, and 15% have damaged relationships as a result.
I can’t imagine what it is in 2020 – probably double that number.
So, when I need to vent, I try to do it with my like-minded friends. But I do think we all need to get better at finding compassion for people with different views. The divisiveness of our culture is adding to our sense of anxiety. We are all human, with the same need to be recognized and heard and to belong, no matter our political affiliation. I have to admit it’s very hard in this current climate of divisiveness and vitriol, but listening and learning is much more effective than being close-minded.
It is easy to stay focused on the negative, but by consciously bringing to mind the positive, it can bolster the brain’s neural structures. It is not about being Pollyannaish, but leveling the playing field to be more resilient in the face of all of the grim news. Whenever we have a good experience, we should notice it. I have a friend on Facebook who always posts on staying positive, and although it annoys me at times, I feel lighter when I read his posts. He’s obsessed with golfing right now, which reminds me of my son. I like being reminded of my son more than anything else.
Each day has many little moments – like a delicious meal, a lovely sunset, a nice interaction, a compliment, a good book, or a beautiful flower. When noticed, it is said to stay with the feeling for at least 30 seconds and feel the emotions in your whole body. Even a minor effort like this can trigger the release of dopamine, which makes it more likely to stay in our memory. If we can repeat that process several times a day, we will feel calmer within a short amount of time.
Research shows when people are exposed to transformative news – stories that focus not just on problems but also on solutions had an 88% likelihood of reporting their day was better. We do this in our family program every week, so that must be why I always feel better after the session is over.
” Digital Detox” will be the first blog in a series on staying centered in a crazy world. It will be about learning how to unplug and finding some stillness within. I am looking forward to researching how to relax my death grip on my phone. I am as bad as my granddaughter and feel disgusted with myself when my phone tells me what my screen time average is every day. Yikes! I think I am addicted to it!
Discovering how to reach for a peaceful moment rather than reaching for my cell phone sounds like a good project. Life can be really simple, but sometimes we insist on making it complicated.
Mary Cucarola – 6/6/20