COVID, COVID-19, HELP, DEPRESSION, STRESS, ISOLATION, ANXIETY AND COVID-19: HELPING AND LOVING OTHERS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Depression, Stress, Isolation, Anxiety and Covid-19: Helping and Loving Others During the Coronavirus Pandemic

What does love look like? We all need to receive love. We are meant to give love. Humans are wired for love, connection and community.

When trials and tribulations shake up our world, some individuals tend to become more loving, and others…less loving. They either respond with empathy and care or selfishness and irritation with others. Sometimes, selfishness is rooted in a lack of love for others. Other times, irritation with others is rooted in trauma, depression, anxiety or other medical problems (for example, thyroid problems adversely affect the brain).

One day, a few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store when I encountered an angry stranger. I was on my way with my shopping cart to another aisle when a man confronted me with an angry face. He was mad that my cart contained an item which he wanted. This has never happened to me, but I understand these are peculiar times.

I smiled at him and told him he could have the item before he reached in my cart, grabbed it and scurried to the check out. Yes, he was inconsiderate. I started to think about it, and realized that we can never know what stress, anxiety and/or depression someone is encountering in his or her private life. Might as well love.

Love never fails!

Just as it is easy to think only of oneself during stressful times, it’s also easy during times of crisis to compare. That is, to compare ourselves to others before judging them with our limited information. We might think, “Oh, they don’t have it so bad” or “Oh, their experience looks good…must be nice!” The judgments flow naturally because we are human and it’s easy to compare.

What does love look like? We can all benefit ourselves and others with these basic reminders about love.

Love is patient and kind. Love considers what others might need or want. That is, love considers what would brighten up someone else’s day. Love “suffers long” and copes with others, showing kindness even where it is undeserved.

Love does not envy, boast or brag. Love neither becomes jealous of what another has earned or been gifted, nor does love boast or brag (to make others become jealous, envious or inferior).

Love is neither arrogant nor proud. Love does not think too highly of oneself. Love does not judge rashly because rash and petty judgment comes from pride. It is prideful to think that we – in our limited knowledge – know what others are going through. Nobody can understand another human like God can, and nobody has all the information to judge appropriately. When it comes to knowing people fully, we see the mere tip of the iceberg.

Love is not rude or resentful. Love does not resent others if they are doing well or on a different path. Love thinks before it speaks. Love includes others, not showing discrimination. Love does not make one feel drained, hurt, inferior, used or unaccepted. Love does not steal what belongs to someone else. Rather, love considers others…making them feel accepted, cared for, refreshed, appreciated, affirmed, safe, motivated and encouraged (love also tells the truth with care and kindness, even if the truth is unpleasant).

Wishing you a day of joy, peace and most of all…love. You are loved. How can you take action in the next few days to actively show love in a practical way? Now is a good time to show, give and receive love.

Xx Becky

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:7,8

This is my new coaching website!  I would appreciate you if you would simply like and share my post so that others can be helped and comforted during these hard times.  Thank you. 

3 Simple Ways To Cope With Information Overload and Overwhelm During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Have you felt overwhelmed lately?  A few days ago, someone I know and love was becoming depressed with information overload.  The bad news keeps rolling in on news channels, and some channels are worse than others.  Some of the news is fact-based and important to know…some not. 

Then, today, I spoke with someone who told me she felt invigorating and energized after turning off the non-stop news stream for one week. 

What we consume truly affects our states of mind and our energy levels.  What we consume affects how valuable we can be to others. It’s not that easy to focus these days, but it can be done.  

First, embrace what I call a “controlled ignorance.”  This is not the same as carelessness or an irresponsible apathy.  In fact, if you know me personally, you know that I am likely the least apathetic person you know!  I love researching and getting all the facts.  Instead, what this means is consuming enough facts and information, but only enough to be a great citizen and helpful to others.  In other words, this means being well-informed with the facts, but not to the point we are drowning in fear, tossing and turning by mixed news messages.  Again, this is neither “ignorance is bliss” nor is it a harmful apathy.  

There is a difference between being beneficially informed about a subject and being weighed down all day about it.  Having an excess of needless information won’t lend to the solution, and it will only cause more anxiety and ultimately, family harm.  For example, gathering the stats on the daily death rates for every state across the country and announcing it to the family is not helpful if this means ignoring our families all day long.  Our children need us during this time!  Loads of needless information take away value and energy that we could be adding to our own lives and to others.  Talking endlessly in circles – hours after hours – with our buddies about information neither lends to the solution nor does it make our children and other family members feel loved or safe during this time.  Yes, we do need information, but this could end up looking something like the law of diminishing returns when it comes to information consumption.  Lately, I refuse to have my thoughts and focus dictated by others – people in power – with political and personal agendas.

Second, add value to your life, your family members’ or your friends’ lives.  In whatever way you can.  When our minds are filled with thoughts of how we can help ourselves or others, there is not much room for useless information.  What fills the space in your mind?  The space in our minds is valuable real estate, yet how often do we give this “precious land” away to thoughts and to people that do not matter?  What information and message are we putting into the lives of those around us (our children, spouse, friends, etc.)?  Do people feel fearful or hopeful after they speak with you?  Do they feel life when around us? 

Adding value can come in many forms.  Simple ways to add value to your own life and others’ lives are to go for a walk or run, make a healthy dinner, send a thoughtful message to someone or buy something calming for someone.  I recently sent several of my friends some calming, chemical-free, lead-free candles (from my favorite candle store, http://www.enlightencandlesarizona.com).  How can you show someone love in a practical way?  People need love right now.  Check out my previous article on loving during these hard times.  You have the power to add value and blessing into someone else’s life.  Perhaps this comes through words, actions or giving.

Finally, maintain a future focus.  Focus, especially a future focus, helps ease information overload in the present.  Allow yourself to dream, too.  Dream of that future vacation you always wanted and the task you wanted to accomplish.  Writing down future goals and what you want to focus on also helps.  It helps to solidify our focus.  As for the immediate future, what do you want to do tonight?  It can be motivating for ourselves, our children and others in our families to have something fun or different to look forward to each day.  It can also be motivating to set a goal.  It is rewarding when we accomplish a task like finishing an organizational project or completing a creative endeavor.  Regarding focus, if you are not choosing what to focus on, others will gladly waste it for you.  Take your focus back!

Limiting what information you allow in your life, adding value to your own and others’ lives and maintaining a future focus are great ways to cope with information overload.  Onward! 

Xx Becky

This is my new coaching website!  I would appreciate you if you would simply like and share my post so that others can be helped and comforted during these hard times.  Thank you. 

Covid-19 and Wired for Connection: 3 Simple Actions to Help With Depression, Anxiety and Loneliness

All five of us in my family have been inside of the house for over four weeks now. One of us had a virus resulting in severe pneumonia for three weeks during that time (whether or not it was the c-virus is a mystery).

As an introvert, I’ve always dreamed of the day when I could stay inside for weeks and not see a soul. That is not all that it is chocked up to be, my fellow introvert friends. The fact is that we are officially missing other humans. What about you? How is this crisis affecting you?

God wired each of us for connection. Human connection is a basic human need. Studies show that individuals who are part of a culture with a strong community live the longest. While it is necessary that we stay away from each other during this quarantine to save lives, I’m afraid that there will be another crisis on the horizon now: the crisis of anxiety and depression resulting from the loneliness of isolation.

For about a decade, I studied cults and unsafe religious groups, their isolation tactics and their effects on the human psyche. I have had the opportunity to speak with dozens of parents who have “lost” their children to cults. Being in isolation from our loved ones during a quarantine is hard enough. Imagine being cut off from your family and friends for good (a permanent cut off). It is a permanent mental and physical isolation.

For parents and others who have lost their children and loved ones to destructive cults, the Covid-19 isolation experience is a walk in the park. This is the world they have been living in due to the cruel, mandated shunning of the cults.

Isolation is a challenge and at times, it is painful…whether it’s from a malicious intent or not. Different forms of isolation (such as mandated shunning) happen a lot with unsafe religious groups and coercive-control groups.

Retired Licensed Psychologist Bonnie Zieman notes,

“Disconnection from family and friends is one of the worst things that can happen to a human…Of course, much of the research [from social scientists and psychologists] has been about how to cope after the literal loss or death of loved ones, not the loss of loved ones still alive, still living near you – who are mandated by an organization to cut you out of their life.” (Emphasis added)

Zieman, Bonnie.  2018. Published by Bonnie Zieman.  Shunned: A Survival Guide. p. xii

Zieman notes that this disconnection from others causes the unpleasant primal feeling that we do not belong (ibid). This makes us feel unsafe in the world (ibid). For the parents and grandparents I have known who have lost their kids and grandkids to cults, when their quarantine is over, their isolation from their loved ones will continue. For others, they will return to their connections.

I have grown concerned during these past few weeks for the mental health of isolated individuals. While we are all trying to solve the disease dilemma by doing our part in staying home, I have pondered the risks for a crisis of anxiety, depression and loneliness. For some of individuals, they are getting a small taste of what cult isolation feels like. How are you coping mentally with this crisis? Here are three ideas to help:

  • Get bright sun early in the morning. Bright, natural light resets melatonin levels and our body clocks, leading to a better mood, better sleep and more energy.
  • Focus. I don’t mean on the TV or news! Instead of filling our minds with bombarding negative news coverage all day long, let’s find a healthy project and get our minds to hyper-focus on it (when we have time to do so).
  • Connect. Connect with someone on the phone, virtually or from a distance. If you are quarantined with family, make some time to put down electronic devices, and connect with your family members. Spending time with our pets, time in nature and in prayer also helps ease the stress of loneliness.

Cheers to better human connections soon!

Narcissism, Emotional Abuse and the Silent Treatment: Why You Should Not Allow This Oppression In Your Life

Say “No” To Silence and Mandated Shunning

The dreaded silent treatment. It should not be allowed in our lives for many reasons. The silent treatment equates with a lack of human dignity and a lack of love and respect. Who needs that?

Nobody likes being on the receiving end of silence. Not many realize what is truly happening during the silent treatment. Many individuals don’t understand at all what is happening, especially if one is highly empathetic and tends to see the good in others.

Individuals who are acting abusively use the silent treatment dagger to throw the target off kilter and to keep control and domination. It is a subtle yet damaging form of aggression, and why would we allow aggression and coercive control in our lives? It’s an attempt to control a person, to tell them clearly – without words – “You don’t matter” and “I dominate you in this relationship.” It’s human oppression which is rooted in pride and hatred rather than freedom, humility and love. The silent treatment is manipulation.

The best we can do when we are dealing with a controlling person is to pray for him or her and to stop giving the person the opportunity to further abuse. This might equate with stopping the chase. Keep in mind that true narcissists love the mind games which include a chase. When we chase a narcissist, we are only hurting ourselves.

Are We Overthinking It?

Often, the temptation creeps in which makes us think that we are “overthinking” the silence. That is, maybe the silent person is “Just busy” or “Not trying to be overtly mean.” While that might be absolutely true in some rare cases, our intuitions (God-sent) do alarm us when something is unhealthy in the relationship. The fact is that where the silent treatment flourishes, there is often an unhealthy or toxic dynamic. Plain and simple, the silent treatment, when done on purpose to punish someone, is oppressive emotional abuse! Gaslighting (when the abuser gets the target to doubt his or her understanding and reality), confusion and cognitive dissonance often ensue.

While I believe there can be times to show grace, mercy and to give others the benefit of the doubt, often our gullibility and lack of education concerning the silent treatment tactic ends up perpetuating the abuse. Those who have kind, merciful hearts are at high risk for emotional abuse from the silent treatment.

Sharie Stines, Psy.D explains,

“Abusers and/or narcissistic personality types love to ignore you and they love for you to know that they are ignoring you [this is part of the game of chase].  Why is that?  Let’s parse this concept apart.  The silent treatment is not blatant; it’s insidious [it’s not a mere accident, it’s an actual, aggressive tactic used in abusive relationships. Yes, there are people this cruel].  The only person who really feels the silent treatment is the target.  The person giving the silent treatment is not being overtly aggressive, abusive, or unkind in any visible way [this lends to the confusion of the abusive dynamic].  This keeps him looking “good” and reasonable.  When challenged, the giver of the silent treatment can say comments such as, “I’m fine.”  “Nothing’s wrong.”  “I’m not mad.” Or some other innocuous comment [this causes self-doubt and more confusion]. Realize that these comments are forms of gas lighting and confabulation, which are other common narcissistic weapons (see Coping with Narcissistic Confabulators.)  The internal confusion results in the experience of cognitive dissonance, which is prevalent in abusive relationships.” (Emphasis in brackets added)

https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2016/07/the-silent-treatment/

Friends, allowing ourselves to be ignored is not a good idea for one main reason: it eats away at our self-worth and self-esteem. It is a blatant contradiction to the truth: that God values you and that you have human dignity. You should not allow the silent treatment in your life because you have worth and you matter! You should value yourself too. The silent treatment – like a poison – will only damage your psyche, your spirit and even those around you who need you to be healthy!

We are called to respect others but also to respect ourselves. Relationships should be nourishing, life-giving and should allow for equal communication with mutual listening. Above all, when dealing with others who are trying to dominate with the iron fist of silence, let go of fear. Instead, operate in a spirit of power, love and self-control. You – not the abuser – have the power to say “No” to the shaming tool of silence, to love them, pray for them, and get on with your life of freedom.

In my future article, I will discuss my insights about what to do when the silent treatment happens to you. I look forward to exploring those insights and going deeper, together.

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