Emotional Healing: Navigating The Unknown

By Dr. Ted Wiard

Editors Note: This is part of an ongoing series of columns by grief specialist Dr. Ted Wiard, dedicated to helping educate the community about emotional healing.

We have been discussing the topic of grief and how it is a natural and normal healing process from any type of loss. Grief is the process of redefining one’s self after loss into the new situation and definition of who that person is now.

In the previous columns we discussed the first five phases of grief. Since that time, we have watched the entire world shift in unsuspecting ways for different people, but in that shift, there is loss and from loss, there is grief.

As the perception of safety for the masses has been dismantled, fear and anxiety have increased as the brain desperately tries to make sense of what is going on and how to regain an internal place of safety. Externally, adjustments are happening rapidly on so many levels. Adjustments to workspace, home schooling, shopping, accessibility to needs and wants, social and professional gatherings, and this is only a minuscule amount of the radical and transitions that are happening for each of us individually and as a collective. This leads to a high level of chaos and a tendency of reaching out for information to help us decide what our next action should be to bring back a sense of stability in our lives.

As all types of Leaders scramble to disseminate accurate information and next levels of action, we may feel rather isolated and alone in the unknown. As shock and denial becomes diluted, the unknown can lead to more anxiety, as this is common and makes sense. What you can do in this time of chaos is, take a breath and say to yourself, “What is doable for me in this moment?” Deciding what is doable and not doable can help your brain start to slow down, decrease future catastrophizing, and take whatever that next action is that can be done. It may be choosing a project that can be completed. I have noticed many individuals washing their cars, cleaning the yard, repairing things, and making order in their worlds where they are able. This is enormously important as the brain can settle a bit and not be in a constant state of hyperarousal.

In addition to finding doable action, you may wish to find disciplines that help decrease anxiety. Here are some ideas that may help:

  • BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS: Kindness allows a feeling of safety and will help your nervous system relax to a certain extent. Kindness bolsters resilience so we can learn from the situation and not be caught in ruminating thought processes.
  • FIND WAYS TO BE MINDFUL – Experimenting with ways to meditate can help calm the system as well. This can be done in a formal practice or in everyday moments.
  • GO FOR A WALK OUTSIDE – Nature has always been a healing environment, so spend some time being grateful for its beauty and sounds. Try to let the brain have a break from doom will allow space for hope and rest … don’t watch the news all day!
  • ACCEPT YOU HAVE CERTAIN EMOTIONS – Identifying your emotions helps them be less emotionally strangling.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S discusses the nine ways to immediately reduce anxiety:

  1. Take a breath;
  2. Accept you are anxious;
  3. Realize your brain can magnify the situation;
  4. Question your thoughts;
  5. Use calming visualizations;
  6. Be an observer of the story rather than being the story;
  7. Use positive self-talk;
  8. Focus on what is right, rather than what seems so wrong; and
  9. Focus on meaningful activities and thoughts. By following certain mindful disciplines, you can lessen anxiety and actually be more productive for you and others. I wish you well, and until the next article, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com or call at 575.776.2024.