Your family needs for you to be strong and healthy and you’re the only one that can make that happen.
by RAHNELLA ADSIT
“From one terrified spouse to another … The world feels like it’s on fire. It feels like everything is suffocating. On top of having to keep from getting this virus, protecting our family, supporting our spouse from afar, and caring for ourselves, it feels like the world is on our shoulders and sometimes it is. But we get up every morning and we face every single day with grace. We put on our big girl pants and start our coffees, and we make the day our b****, and we should be PROUD of that! Be proud that you wake up and go to work, you clean, you take care of the kids, and you take care of yourself. All the while the world burns and you do it without your other half. Some days are hard and they are frustrating and it hurts. Oh, it hurts so bad. But you get up and you do it, and you show the world you are more than the chaos, and you are more than what you believe. It’s a terrifying time to be alive, but now more than ever is the time to thrive. Give yourself some love and realize all you’ve accomplished. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself right now.” (Julian Bjorogo – Military Spouse)
Know that it’s okay to be anxious or afraid. You’re not alone.
In the ancient Chinese military treatise The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Our world is in the midst of a battle against the coronavirus. At this moment you may be at a crossroad in your life where you have to make a choice. Do you choose the path of the knee-jerk response – “flight, fight or freeze” reaction – or will you take the other path and choose to see this as an opportunity to face-up to the challenge and be strengthened by it? You don’t fight a war without a battle plan. Developing your own personal strategy is critical to your survival. So, how do you handle this challenging situation?
First, identify the enemy
COVID-19 has changed the way we go about our day-to-day lives. We face job loss, catching the virus, scarcity of supplies and a myriad of other challenges, but despite all of it all, I believe the biggest challenge we are facing is the mounting stress, anxiety and fear that comes along with it. As scary as it may seem, facing your fears will provide a sense of relief. The better you get at pinpointing your fears, the more manageable your fears will become. A good question to ask yourself is this: During this pandemic, what am I exactly afraid of? Intentionally write them down. Next, check off the ones you actually can do something about and then write out a brief action plan for each one you checked off.
Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles – most of them never happened.”
The reality is, most of what you fear won’t happen and many of those things you listed, honestly, you have no control over. Identifying what you can manage will give you a sense of power and build your resiliency. The rest you have to let it go and give it to God.
Secondly, understand your needs
How do you stay strong in the midst of battle? One of the most important things that you can do is to practice self-care. It goes way beyond social distancing or washing your hands, it’s about self-compassion. Think of self-care as having three basic components:
This requires you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus inwardly to determine how you are feeling, what your stress level is, what types of thoughts are going through your head, where you are carrying stress in your body, and whether your thoughts, behaviors and actions are consistent with who you want to be.
Seek to find balance in all areas of your life including work, personal and family life. Becoming aware of when you are losing balance in your life gives you an opportunity to change. Make time to do activities you enjoy. Learn to triage the events of your day and life. Set priorities and healthy boundaries. Focus on what you CAN accomplish and let the rest slide for now. Remember to celebrate what you do accomplish every day and develop an attitude of gratitude. You have much to be thankful for.
This involves building and maintaining supportive relationships with your family and friends. Living in isolation is toxic – we thrive in relationships. During this time of self-quarantine or lock-down make an effort to connect with those you love. Find your battle buddies. This is also a good time to re-examine your spiritual beliefs and connect with God. People have leaned heavily on their faith convictions for centuries and studies have shown that those who have spiritual foundation find the strength to meet their needs.
~ Adapted from Psychological First Aid for Schools, National Child Traumatic Stress Network
As a military spouse, you learn quickly that you must develop an optimistic “can-do” attitude.” You become skilled at facing challenges that come your way and from that, you grow in confidence in who you are and what you can do. Taking care of yourself is a valid goal to pursue because it strengthens your mental, physical and emotional well being. It will lower your anxiety levels, build your self-esteem, and lessen some of your emotional outbursts such as reactive anger.
Practicing self-care allows you to remain more balanced, focused and effective, which helps everyone involved.
As my Army medic friend once told me “sit down Rahnella, and take a break because you are no good to anybody dead.” Your family needs for you to be strong and healthy and you’re the only one that can make that happen. You CAN-DO it my friend!
Rahnella Adsit – International Coordinator for REBOOT Recovery; speaker, author/co-author: When War Comes Home, Combat Trauma Healing Manual, First Responder Healing Manual and REBOOT First Responders Course.