'Sitting With It'
With everything going on in the world, sometimes I think I have officially gone a bit stir crazy.
I made a move across the country 8 months ago to a new city during the pandemic, started a new career, spent my first holiday without my family or friends and am adjusting to a new culture and lifestyle. All of these changes, on top of social distancing and isolation, have been hard on me. I know it has been difficult for most people. With limited places to go (which is such a struggle because I really want to explore my new city!) and not having daily interactions with other humans, I am home sitting around a lot with nothing but my thoughts, emotions, bad tv, my partner, and puppy.
Hanging out with my thoughts and emotions has been terrifying and interesting. In the past, I have been nervous to really explore my feelings and what triggers these emotions. Sitting with these emotions is new for me because previously, I would try and avoid sitting with the random emotions that come up from what feels like ‘out of nowhere’. I would clean because I felt better when things were in place, but now, how many times can I clean my small living space? (even when you have a dog that creates dust bunnies). So, what do I do now? I am trying to really embrace sitting and being present with my emotions.
For me, the first part of sitting with these feelings has been being able to label or give a name to the emotions that come up for me. Anxiety. Sadness. Frustration. Alone. Suffocated. Self-doubt. Sometimes it’s hard to find the best word to explain what emotion you are feeling, so looking at a ‘feelings wheel’ might help you describe what you are feeling. Being from NY originally, I found one in the shape of my favorite food PIZZA!
The second part of sitting with these feelings is noticing what physical reactions occur when feeling the different emotions. I know when I get really anxious, I start picking at my cuticles. When I get frustrated, I have uncontrollable tears. When I am sad, I seem to always end up in a ball, in my favorite sweatshirt and leggings avoiding all eye contact. It has been fascinating noticing what physical signs show up during different emotions. What is not as surprising and hard to acknowledge is how frustrated I got during this process. How can I feel alone and be in a house with people that I love and talk to on a daily basis? How can I feel alone in my house and feel suffocated at the same time? Why am I suddenly anxious about going to a store (for essential needs) or even leaving the house to walk my puppy? One of the biggest things I've been learning lately is I can feel both alone AND suffocated. There is nothing that says I can't feel two things at once, so why do I feel the need to say it can only be one feeling or the other? I have been making a conscious effort to replace all the BUTs with ANDs and realize I can have two contradictory feelings occurring at the same time. While I might not have all the answers to the questions I ask myself, I am giving myself credit around being able to identify the multitude of feelings I am having during this phase of isolation and stress. I hope you are giving yourself a break as well!
A fellow psychotherapist, Whitney Goodman @sitwithit, posted about ways to create more connections when feeling lonely. I think some of these tips will be helpful when you are not sure what to do when sitting with your own thoughts and emotions:
-be present with the person you are with
-work on your inner world
-ask creative questions
-be vulnerable when it feels safe for you (this one is extremely tough for me as I am a self-proclaimed independent woman and don't want to burden people)
-make an effort to keep in touch
-get out of your own head
-talk about things that matter to you
Ww would love to hear some of the ways that are working or not working for you as you are "sitting with it."
My name is Katie and I am a therapist working in the group practice Psychology & Wellness Group PDX.