Hello. My name is Laney Stenquist. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist. I work at the Thriveworks location in Alexandria, Virginia. I am here to answer a question and the question is, “is it normal to have a meltdown amid COVID-19?” Short answer, yes, of course. It’s always normal in a way to have a meltdown, but we want to kind of dissect what we mean.
So let’s talk normal, if you’re asking this question, we need to take a step back and really decide what normal is and what we’re looking for. If we are evaluating ourselves, trying to meet a certain standard or comparing ourselves to others or are worried about how we’re being perceived. That’s really where we want to call to question where are these standards come from? Really pay attention if we have habits of judging how we feel, if something is okay or not okay or if we should or should not be feeling something.
Create an awareness. We need to start to recognize our expectations, recognize our judgments how and what we’re measuring ourselves against and what standards we’re trying to achieve. A good way to kind of call this into question and push against those norms is to use affirmations.
So some affirmations that could help us to accept and normalize feeling and having emotions. You might practicing things to yourself like it’s okay to feel scared, to feel uncertain, disappointed, whatever it is. It’s okay to cry and scream or rest and allowed to feel scared.
I’m allowed to feel all my feelings, uncertainty, all my feelings are valid. I can talk about how I feel. My emotions do not define me. We want to start to create a standard within you that allows emotion and does not call into question whether or not it’s normal or acceptable or feeds into some way of measuring. And so the goal is to embrace how you feel. It is normal to feel and to feel anything. And it’s precisely what makes us human.
So the other definition I would call into question is what a meltdown is. So I’m going to assume in this space that it is an expression of emotions that were too powerful, I would say, to be held back. They essentially force their way out and I think gives a feeling of powerlessness.
So it’s important to know your emotions again and allow yourself to feel. And we want to in a way view our emotions as tunnels, that it might be dark and scary and difficult, but at the end of the tunnel there is an exit. There is relief. Emotions are temporary. They will not last forever. And if we get in this habit of allowing ourselves to feel and move through the emotional tunnel as they come the idea is that meltdowns as described here where they’re forcing their way out, they are very emotional and very overwhelming.
Meltdowns would hypothetically be less frequent, less severe real issues with the emotions arise when we judge how we feel or decide that we don’t want to feel something, that it’s too hard or that we would rather you know, numb or distract or ignore the emotions and these judgments or decisions that we don’t want to feel. Something can cause anxiety. They can cause anger or frustration.
But it’s more about the emotion. We’re anxious because we’re scared and we don’t want to be or we don’t know what to do about it. We’re angry because we cannot control our sadness and make it go away. And it’s important to accept that emotions are simply vibrations. They move through our body and there’s really not much to fear. We are strong. We can manage the discomfort and the pain and remind ourselves that it is a temporary experience.
So here we find ourselves in the middle of this global pandemic and feeling some very powerful emotions. We are isolated. We have disruptions, major changes, missed expectations, maybe some financial distress. And it’s important that we don’t resist, we have to allow ourselves to feel all of the emotions that come with this experience.
Do not resist, do not judge, practice acceptance and a lot of self-compassion. Talk to your therapist about mindfulness, meditation, emotional health. There’s a lot of ways we can learn how to feel and how to accept, learn how to cope. Mindfulness is a great tool to start understanding your thoughts and judgments and where they’re coming from.
All of this is in our power to manage and embrace. So start practicing being aware and talk about it with someone you trust. So that is my answer to the question and I hope that that helps.