26 May Every Waking Moment
It is 2 am, you are awake, and your mind is racing. You do not understand how it is you can still be awake. You had a long and exhausting day, you were too tired to even eat dinner. You could not wait to take a shower, and just fall into bed, so you did. That was five hours ago. Since that time, you have tossed and turned, gotten up to go to the bathroom twice, drank a glass of milk, and watched an infomercial. All you have to show for it is indigestion and a weight-loss product that will be paid for in three easy installments of $19.95.
Prior to COVID-19 our days were often non-stop with phone calls, emails and meetings. We grabbed lunch at our desks, made it to the gym when we could, and barely spent any quality time with our families. It seems we have suddenly gone from long days at work to working from home, or worse laid off. We are now in a state of forced time at home with our families, unless we live alone or are what is considered essential workers, both of which bring on a whole new level of stress.
Currently, our every waking moment is fixated on keeping our hands clean, maintaining six feet of separation from neighbors and shoppers on our brief and stressful trips to the grocery store. Our social lives are all but non-existent. Negativity on social media barely helps us to stay connected there. Sleep should be a reprieve. Instead, when we go to bed the thoughts we held at bay all day swirl around.
If sleep evades you, and you find you are awake nights thinking or worrying, it may be because you are not giving yourself time to process personal thoughts during day. Setting time aside for yourself and your family is essential for your own mental health as well as for the healthy functioning of your family.
Many families are using this time to reconnect. Board games, puzzles and electronics have regained popularity. Family dinners are becoming a thing again. However, if we are spending all our time with activities and our loved ones, we may not be processing our concerns that lead to insomnia.
You may need help in finding ways to process your anxiety so you can take better care of yourself or your family. Some find that therapy helps by providing safe space to share concerns and gain coping skills. A therapist can offer resources that can help you to cope with COVID-19 information overload and related stress so that you can meet your worries head on during your waking hours — so you can do what your body and mind need you to do at night…. Sleep!.
Jacqueline Burnett-Brown, PhD, CDP, CDT is a counseling intern at CHRIS Counseling DeKalb. To make an appointment please call 404-636-1457 or email intakeccdekalb@CHRIS180org.