Staying Centered in Uncertain Times

This article was written by Holly Corbett and originally published here:

We’re experiencing a loss of our normal routines and, for many of us, our normal ways to connect, as well as uncertainty about the future. This can lead to feeling heightened emotions—and we’re experiencing this on a collective level.

But identifying exactly what we are feeling and knowing how to process those mix of feelings may not always be easy—especially during this time when many of us are confined to our homes.

Part of what we do at Consciously Unbiased is to connect the heart and the mind to spark habit-building and change behavior. Though our society puts a lot of emphasis on the mind and thinking part, we’re not always taught how to check in with and connect to our hearts.

In this special episode of Breaking the Bias, Director of Content Holly Corbett speaks to Breakthrough Coach and Business Consultant Tosca DiMatteo for advice on how to deal with uncertainty during these uncertain times, and tune into your heart as well as your mind. Tosca shares why ignoring or bottling up our emotions means they’ll likely come out in unhealthy ways, and walks us through strategies to help us better recognize what we’re feeling, process those feelings, and ground ourselves. Doing so can make us better leaders, employees, partners—and just more calm overall. Listen to the episode here for the candid conversation or read below for some of Tosca’s tips.

*NOTE: This podcast is for informational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

STEP #1: Acknowledge Your Emotions

“People are feeling every kind of emotion, from grief to excitement to fear to anxiety—and it’s constantly changing,” says Tosca. “Often this can feel overwhelming because we don’t really know what we are feeling at a given moment; it’s so muddy. As a society we don’t do a good job encouraging the acknowledgment and releasing of emotions. That means many of us never got the tools to do so. It’s not your fault; you are not alone.”

Here are some of Tosca’s suggestions on how to start a daily practice to help you become more aware of your emotions:

QUIET YOUR MIND WITH MEDITATION. Sit in stillness to tune into your feelings for more clarity. Some helpful apps may be Insight Timer, Headspace and Calm. Or try finding guided meditations on YouTube.

DO A DAILY CHECK-IN. Try setting aside time one or more times a day to simply check in with how you’re feeling to begin building a habit of noticing your emotions. You could even set a reminder in your calendar. When sensations and feelings arise, pay attention to when your mood changes and when the shifts happen. 

LET GO OF JUDGEMENT. The idea here is to try different things until you find what works for you, and to become aware of your feelings without judgement.

When I talk about seeing time differently, I’m not saying – “hey, now you have more time, so go do more stuff.” Absolutely not. What I am saying is with these new lenses by which we are seeing the world, we have an opportunity to see what is serving us in our lives and what is not.

If you are the kind of person that is GO GO GO, you never stop, never take care of your own needs and always push to the next and the next, well then, maybe this forced slow down has a message for you. I wonder, what message you are getting? And are you giving yourself permission to pay attention to it? This was my way for a long, long time – and I STILL have a card in my office that says “In Stillness, Purpose Speaks”

If you are the kind of person that hasn’t taken action on your true desires….
If you’ve accepted a life that doesn’t make you happy…
If you’re stuck in a cycle of limiting beliefs, feeling paralyzed by your circumstances…
I would ask you what is calling you in this moment? What small action can help you get out of your rut of inaction?

Step #2: Move through your emotions

“Emotions are energy in motion,” says Tosca. “And so part of what we could do in this time [during quarantine] is give the space and the opportunity for those emotions to move through us versus bottling them up, stuffing them down, just getting through your to-do list, because if you don’t release those emotions, they are bound to show up again later.”

Some ways Tosca suggests we can move through our emotions are:

WRITE IT DOWN.Journaling about your emotions is one way to release them because the act of writing helps externalize them.It may be worth a try:Studies show that writing down your feelings can help ease anxiety and even boost physical health. 

TALK IT OUT. Try talking to a trusted friend, loved one, your therapist, or even a coach. “Some people are very verbal and they process through talking, so that’s one way to move through it,” says Tosca.

EXERCISE. Yoga, dance, walking and other forms of movement can help you release emotions because we literally store emotions in our bodies, says Tosca. Think about the physical symptoms that may arise from strong emotions, such as tension headaches, nervous stomachs and the cold sweats. Some ideas on how to move while sheltering in place: Audible subscribers can get access to Rise & Shine Yoga flows ranging from five minutes to 30 minutes, as well as other exercise programs. There are also fitness apps such as Aaptiv.

The Real Risk

The REAL risk is in not living your life RIGHT NOW, and looking at the clock 5, 10, 20 years from now wondering why you lived someone else’s idea of a dream. I guess that’s why I love the work that I do so much – I just love helping people pull back the layers and the masks to get to their truth so they can live their own dreams.

What mask is coming down for you right now?  What truths are being revealed?

I beg of you not to ignore this. Don’t cover it up with “I’m just lucky to be here”.  Yes, you are AND if you aren’t living the life you imagined, then there is SO MUCH MORE that is possible out there for you.

Step #3: Ground yourself

Anxiety is uncertainty about the future, so another way to get us out of our spiraling thought patterns is to calm your mind by getting back into your body and, therefore, the present moment. Tosca says we can do this by:

TAKE SOME DEEP BREATHS. Taking a few slow, deep breaths where your exhale is longer than your inhale can help lower cortisol—or stress hormone—levels and slow your heart rate, which in turn makes you feel more calm. When you’re feeling calm, you’re better able to identify and acknowledge the here and now.

CONNECT WITH NATURE. Time spent in nature has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and boost mental health overall, according to studies. If you live in an urban area or don’t feel comfortable going outside, simply daydreaming about or looking at photos of nature can help. “Your  brain doesn’t know the difference between when you’re experiencing something and when you’re thinking about it, so there is a lot of power in visualizing those places outside where you feel calm or your favorite vacation spot,” says Tosca.

We hope these tips and tricks help you ease some anxiety and find some peace during these uncertain times. The goal is to start experimenting with ways to tune into how you’re feeling—especially for those of us who aren’t used to doing so—in order to find a tool that works for you.

“These tools are only suggestions to help you see your emotions more clearly,” says Tosca. “Whatever that is for you, there’s no wrong and there’s no right here. However frequently or infrequently you think you need [to practice them], go right ahead. Just know that these tools are always accessible to you.”

Show Notes

About Tosca DiMatteo

Mental Health America Hotline and Crisis Text Line

ABC News: Calls to US helpline jump 891%, as White House is warned of mental health crisis

Psychology Today: Can You Anxiety and Stress By The Way You Breathe?



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