• Amanda Barry

Control: its loss and what to do about it

I’m hearing a lot about how the loss of control is one of the most difficult things that people are currently having to cope with right now. Not being able to go about our daily lives as usual or plan anything that involves socialising or travel is a huge shock to the system. Holidays, music events, festivals, conferences, celebrations, family visits, schools, socialising, weddings – everything that makes normal life, well normal, is off the calendar or soon will be for a while at least if we are to protect the vulnerable and flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections.

Feelings of helplessness, anxiety, uncertainty and fear are common when our ability to direct what’s happening is taken away. You don’t have to be a control freak to feel rattled when you suddenly find you are no longer in the driving seat. I’ve been experiencing some of these feelings myself and find it helpful to fall back on a few techniques that always help build a bridge back to a place of calm.

Try them for yourself:

-       Make two lists - firstly 5 things which are 100% in your control and then 5 things that are not in your control. When we focus too much on things we can’t control – like world events, this leads to feelings of helplessness and stress. Consider what you can control (such as your own behaviour, habits and thoughts), and make these the focus of your attention instead.

-       Be here now – close your eyes and just focus on 3 things you can hear outside. Then 3 things in the room you are in. Then 3 sensations or sounds of your own body. Finish with three breaths in and out.

Taking a break by doing this exercise a few times everyday will bring a sense of calm as you direct your focus to these things. Your monkey mind may still chatter on but don't worry, just keep returning back each time to the process.

-       Talk it out – sharing your concerns with a trusted friend or colleague can be very helpful in reducing feelings of stress and isolation. When we feel heard, it increases our sense of well being. Try it – then return the favour. Probably everyone could do with a friendly ear right now.