There are times we will face unexpected and tragic challenges to overcome — the year 2020 and its hardships have taught us this. LeNaya Smith Crawford, LMFT, an adolescent, marriage, and family therapist with a specialization in trauma therapy, urges people to shift their mindset. Instead of focusing on the need to go back to a sense of normalcy, Crawford states the importance of coming to terms with the fact that "normal" isn't attainable anymore — what we once considered normal is an unrealistic expectation to have.
"The greatest level of anxiety resides in the areas we have the least amount of control of," Crawford said, adding that, with many of her clients, she does a writing exercise to help them release what they ruminate over in a productive way. It's all about compartmentalizing and is really quite simple:
- Jot down everything that is causing you anxiety, worry, and fear. Anything at all. This can be a regular bulleted list of what's making you feel overwhelmed.
- Then, divide that list up into the things you can control and the things you cannot control.
- Look over the things you can't control, and recognize and honor that you have no control over those situations. Choose to let them go.
- Turn your attention to the things you actually have control over.
Crawford said that "nine times out of 10," what we can't control causes the most anxiety, and actively tending to what you can control promises to reduce that anxiety. She noted that you can do the writing exercise with or without a mental health professional and it can be done whenever you feel yourself fall into a spiral of worrying. The writing tool may pinpoint exactly where those worries are coming from and will help you sort through the noise to find what you should be focusing your energy on.
Though letting worries go is definitely easier said than done, this exercise might provide you with the perspective you need. Give yourself grace and try it out.