(Fear Of Missing Out / Fear Of Meeting Up)
After almost 15 months of varying lockdowns here in the UK, the constraints on our lives are starting to be relaxed, albeit with revised – and ever changing – restrictions.
How do you feel about this?
Or a combination of all the above, plus a few more emotions that you can’t quite articulate?
Most of us are “feeling all the feels” at the moment. Maybe not actually a “fear” of missing out/meeting up but perhaps some concerns.
We all had our lives turned upside down in 2020. Everyone had to deal with a new way of living and things that we took for granted were jeopardised. We have all had to find a new resilience to cope with constant changes that were out of our control.
And now more change is here but, whether you’re relieved or anxious about it, it creates more uncertainty.
These changes are starting to be evidenced by emails from employers, messages from friends, photos of gatherings on social media, etc., all of which have the backdrop of constant rolling news reports covering vaccines, variants, local surges, etc.
How do you feel about returning to events that you previously took for granted?
I know that some are actively enjoying a new-found freedom and planning for the future regardless of uncertainties. Others have ventured into work and activities with an excitement but have been frustrated by restrictions. And others have more deeper reservations.
Remember: You are normal
When viewing your feelings about the “New Normal”, remember that, however you are feeling, this is normal. Everyone is feeling a bit discombobulated (I love that word) at the moment. Be kind to yourself.
Try to identify specifics about how you are feeling
I find that journaling my thoughts – especially by writing WITHOUT thought – really helps me to identify what I am feeling. By “writing without thought”, I mean just writing or typing whatever comes into my head when considering an issue. It’s almost as if I don’t know what I think until I see it in front of me.
Some people like journaling first thing in the morning, others in the evening. Personally, I find that my mind clears and I can write a stream of consciousness most easily after my yoga practice or after getting outside for a walk. Find the best time for you and just let the words flow. The spelling doesn’t matter. The grammar doesn’t matter. It is being able to explore your feelings that counts.
But you may have a different way of doing this. Perhaps talking to a friend or family member, talking to a counsellor, or maybe recording your thoughts on your phone.
Establish boundaries and communicate with those around you.
Once you know where your concerns lie, it is then possible to establish some boundaries and take control. By taking control of what feels is right for you (and these boundaries can change as events/your feelings change), it will help you to experience acceptance and more comfort with everything that is happening.
But it is important to communicate these boundaries with those who can help with them.
Speak to HR/Office Services/Management about any work-related issues. If they are not already clear, ask what safety measures they have in place. Perhaps you could work flexible hours to avoid commuting in peak periods. Perhaps you could only work a few days on site (many companies are doing this anyway).
Be open with friends and family about your own boundaries. Let them know that your feelings are not about them personally. You will probably find that by opening up the discussion, others will have their own reservations.
Self-reflection is a major part of yoga and the events of the past year have led many to re-evaluating how they live/work/etc? Not everyone has the luxury of making changes in every part of their lives, but most of us have some choice.
Are there new routines that you have established that make you feel good? Can they be maintained as life and society continue to evolve? In addition to more sociable walks, I will certainly be scheduling some solitary, mindful walks in nature into my week.
When there is no choice
Sometimes, events and commitments are out of our control and there are work or family commitments that cannot be avoided. Then we have to look at what we can control – our own mindset.
My “go to” for this is:
1. Bring attention to the present moment
I find that the best way to do that is to reconnect with my breath. We cannot breathe for the future or the past. By focusing our attention on the breath, we can start to concentrate on the present moment and feel the safety of where we are now.
Try the following:
Inhale freely and take a long slow exhalation, drawing in the abdomen, feeling the passage of the breath as it leaves abdomen to chest. Release and feel the breath come in again, chest to abdomen, before exhaling slowly from abdomen to chest. Repeat for at least 3-5 breaths.
2. Reframe Mindset
I learned a simple reframing from Corrie McCallum:
Instead of saying “I have to …”, say “I get to …”
Changing my attitude towards a mindset of privilege, changes the way I emotionally engage.
3. Establish own boundaries
Once thinking clearly, we can then clearly establish how we are going to approach this commitment in a positive manner yet still feel comfortable.
But maybe the feeling of overwhelm is starting to impact your life? It is all very well taking things at your own pace, but if there is a feeling of anxiety and overwhelm dominating your life – and, again, this is where journaling and self-reflection can be very useful tools – then consider getting professional help.
Your GP will be able to refer you but there are many Talking Therapies around. Locally where I live, the Wimbledon Guild provides a low-cost counselling service for clients who are over 18 and live, work or study in the London Borough of Merton, but other areas will have similar services available.
Taking positive action can help you to feel better plus an independent professional can help guide you towards finding your own path forward.
There never was a “normal”
There was no consistent “normal” for everyone pre-pandemic, as we all lived different lives. We must also remember that life is constantly changing, and things will continue to change.
It is natural to feel uncomfortable with uncertainty. Everyone feels it, although different things impact different people in different ways.
We must each establish our own boundaries and, as much as possible, move at our own pace.
COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY
TALK to those around you and, just as importantly, LISTEN to those around you when they talk.
TOGETHER, we will move forward.
Photo Credits: Umcar & StormSeeker via Unsplash