Restrictions, Emotions, and
We live in a country that proclaims liberty and freedom for each individual, yet all we hear these days is “restrictions, restrictions, restrictions.” Children cannot go to school. Graduating seniors cannot attend commencement. Adults cannot open their businesses. “Quarantine,” “stay home,” and “social distancing” have now become all too familiar vocabulary.
These restrictions stir up a whole range of emotions. Some feel secure, knowing that these restrictions keep us safe. Others feel anxious…ready to get back to life as normal. Still others feel angry, as friends and neighbors don’t take the restrictions seriously enough.
Some even feel hate. A college student told me, “It’s easy to hate in a time like this.” When we’re frustrated, afraid, and anxious, we can begin to find people to accuse. Some accuse the government. Others accuse protestors. Still others accuse their neighbor.
As these waves of emotions crash in, how do you remain grounded? What holds you in place when you feel off-balanced?
Grounding oneself when intense emotions arise is important in order to maintain steadiness. Short and easy mental exercises that take only a few seconds and don’t require any materials are great for “on-the-go.” Some of these include: box breathing techniques (deep breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts: repeat), naming the colors you see around you, or touching a hard surface or unusual texture can help to calm you down.
Clinical psychologist and author, Dr. Irene Kraegel says, “Begin by sitting down with a pen and paper and answering this question: What are you afraid of?” Name what is stirring up each emotion and why. These practices can center your mind, body, and spirit.
Another approach is to remember the purpose of the restrictions. They’re for the health of our family, friends, and neighbors—and yes, even the ones you are feeling frustrated with. Enduring restrictions for the sake of another—what a beautiful act of love and service.
Ann Noteboom, a resident of Beacon Hill, shared this poem from Robert Frost:
So, when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.
What’s your star in the midst of strong emotions? What helps you to steady yourself when you want to lash out? I often work through emotions by writing, but reading and reflecting is also a comfort. A verse that grounds me in the midst of turmoil is Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” I need the assurance that there is someone kinder and greater than me at work in this upside-down world.
I’m here to journey with you throughout these emotions, and remember that we are all in this together.
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson