If you learned to survive in the absence of consistent, loving interaction and support as a child, you may be vulnerable to feeling trauma later on—as an adult. There’s a higher risk of falling into patterns of experiencing the world traumatically, if your attachment to your parents was insecure when you were growing up.
If you had a difficult childhood, the isolation and uncertainty that most of us are experiencing now could bring back old and difficult emotions.
That old, familiar insecurity can go on for a long time unnoticed, only for the emotions surrounding it to surface when you might again feel trapped, isolated or abandoned. This might happen if your daily routine loses its structure, or your workplace gets shut down and your activities and hobbies are restricted indefinitely. Or your schoolwork is moved online.
- The loneliness could feel unbearable, or a pervasive sense of powerlessness, emptiness, and sorrow might weigh on you.
- Your mind might take off running with anxious scenarios at high speeds into the future.
- Your fear might be so great that you find yourself in a trance-like state, drained of direction, willpower and a sense of perspective.
- Self-criticism and negative self-talk might go into overdrive, especially if you’re someone who typically feels guilty when things appear to go wrong.
Instead of numbing the unpleasant, anxious feelings with meaningless or potentially destructive activities, take the time to do something truly good for yourself.
Turn the same loving care that you might often give others toward yourself. Take the opportunity to focus on improving the quality of your own life and health. It might feel empty, strange, or awkward at first, but do it anyway.
Choose to take yourself by the hand and come into caring, loving connection with yourself in the time you now have.
Here are some ways:
- See how you feel if you stop following the news. If you are quick to feel anxious, listening to daily media coverage of the crisis may be triggering for you. Or, find a way to keep up with the news, while staying conscious of what function it serves for you and how you are using it.
2. Create structure in your day. Make a list of activities that would support your health. It might be going for a daily walk, getting some physical exercise, researching nutritional recipes, eating healthy foods, or Facetiming with your closest friends every day. It is good to have contact with supportive people, take action on a project that you have wanted to do for a long time but haven’t had the time for. Now’s your opportunity! Go for it, create something—anything that gives you a sense of joy and has meaning for you.
3. Do something everyday to intentionally build your self-esteem. Spend 5-15 minutes daily working on the various exercises from the book Du er ikke alene “You Are Not Alone” and the forthcoming “Raised in a Bottle.
4. Decide to steer clear of people you are in conflict with or who you know have an addiction or will pull you off course. You can’t solve their problems.
5. Keep an eye on your thoughts. If you worry a lot and your thoughts are racing, try choosing one of these two things: Either sit down and write out your thoughts, and then decide to let go of them, or ask a good friend to listen to you to give you feedback about which thoughts of yours are driven by anxiety rather than things that are a real threat to you.
6. Watch out for your inner critic. When you start criticizing yourself, stop as soon as possible. Be your own caring parent who loves you and understands that you need support to feel better and grow. You are not worthless or stupid because you are feeling bad. Such feelings might be hanging on from childhood, especially if you often felt criticized when you were having a difficult time.
7. If you have developed an addiction or a dependency, notice when you think about that substance or thing, and what specific feelings and situations may particularly trigger the need for it. Read, for example, Lance Dodes’ book: The Heart of Addiction. It is very useful in overcoming dependencies.