On Mental Health, Social Distancing Diaries

A Different Contagion.

Y’all know I have a tough relationship with Brené Brown. I absorb her TED Talks and articles and interviews like they are my life, but I have yet to successfully make it through one of her books all the way. It’s like…in shorter form my brain looks to her words like life blood but in long form I just check out AND I DO NOT KNOW WHY. Other than I really struggle with “self-help” type books in general. I don’t know if I’ve ever made it all the way through one, if I’m being honest.

BUT SHE HAS A PODCAST NOW. And this is PERFECT for me because I want all her wisdom, but I don’t want to have to read her books. (In my defense, I have bought ALL OF THEM. So I am still paying for her wisdom, just getting it through other ways.)

She did an episode about anxiety and calm that really spoke to me. I am definitely an “over-functioner” as a response to stress as she describes it. But that wasn’t the part that has woven itself around my every breath during this pandemic. It was a smaller moment where she mentions that Anxiety is contagious, but so is CALM.

I have never thought about anxiety being contagious before. I mean…I know my anxiety, when unchecked, can have a ripple effect but thinking of it as contagious is just such so much more palpable. Especially now as we talk a lot about contagions. And so, thinking that CALM could be contagious too has really spoken to me.

My family is all really anxious right now, as we all are. There are so many changes in our lives that are unknown and hard to manage and everyone is going through them and so I’ve really been trying to practice calm in the moments where it seems like someone might be bubbling over. If the dog barks during Donnie’s meeting (our dog’s bark is SO LOUD and our house has NO CARPET and so it echoes) and he get stressed that makes the kids stressed as they’re doing their school work which makes me stressed as I’m helping them.

SO! I’m trying to see these moments and react with CALM. And like Brené says…it takes practice and I am not a natural, but I have found as I practice every day it is coming easier and easier to me. I take a deep breath, I grab the dog’s ball and get him refocused and I use my silly “talking to the dog” voice as I play with him and my silly voice just seems to really help stop the flow of stress from Donnie to the kids and then the dog is on MY team because I’ve got his ball and suddenly everyone is calm again.

Now…in normal circumstances this would not be sustainable forever but honestly? I’m keeping a really good check on my own anxiety right now because of all of Mom’s health problems and I need to be really in tune with my self and so it makes me a really good conduit for calm. I’m already practicing calm with myself many times a day and so I’m already primed and ready to pass it along to my family.

AND IT REALLY HELPS. Online school started this week and I was amazed at how much this practice of recognizing the contagiousness of anxiety and trying to respond with calm (which is also contagious) really keeps everyone in closer…SURVIVABLE harmony.

I just thought I’d share with you guys.

But be graceful with yourself…today and EVERY DAY.

1 thought on “A Different Contagion.”

  1. I needed this today. So much. I feel like this whole quarantine is like this personal wellness journey for me and frankly on some days I hate it. We are still able to do video therapy so as a couple we have continued but now after a session there is no work place for me to go to and get away from this all. And I feel myself being anxious which leads to anger towards others and it feels so often like I just can’t stop it.
    I am sure it was a protective mechanism of some kind from my childhood.
    And now I have lots of free time to think about that…..
    thank you again for the reminder to practice calm.

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