When faced with what we cannot control, we can often feel stressed, aimless, and defeated. Sometimes we then try numbing ourselves with things like junk food, Netflix, or alcohol. A single chocolate bar won’t hurt, but relying on these to cope can end up leading to bigger problems long term in terms of dependency issues or not reaching our goals.

In these times of difficulty, I’ve found myself turning to an old saying: seeking to have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Some of my material is adapted from Marsha Linehan’s work on Dialectical Behavior Therapy. You can find more of her material on her website.

If you can solve it, solve it

When we feel defeated, we need some wins. So ask yourself – what are some small things I can change today to make my world a little better?

We can also do a lot to help in terms of our physical health – and being physically unwell can make us more vulnerable to intense emotion. Try:

• Balancing your eating, and limiting binge snacking
• Setting up a sleep routine
• Limiting or avoiding substance use
• Take any medications prescribed to you
• Go on a walk or exercise at home
• Reach out to a friend who you can confide in, or a friend who makes you laugh

It can be easy to get stuck

Sometimes when people face tough problems, they feel upset, but they don’t do anything to help themselves feel better, or they act impulsively and hurt themselves or others. This is also going to keep you stuck in even more pain and suffering than you were in before, and keep you from moving forward.

Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

If we can’t make things better, and we don’t want to make things worse, we are left with accepting reality as it is. Sometimes we mix up acceptance and complacency, or giving up.

Acceptance does not mean:
• That you like it
• That you deserve it
• That you don’t try to change what you can

Acceptance means we open our hands and our hearts to whatever the day may bring: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We allow the world to be as it is, instead of numbing ourselves so we don’t see it.

Don’t do this alone

Now is the time to come together with loved ones. Reach out to a trusted friend, check in on your family members, and get in contact with a therapist, especially if you’re finding yourself using impulsive actions or numbing to get through quarantine. We’re all in this together – reach out today.

Ashley Holcomb, PsyD
Ashley Holcomb, PsyD

I help individuals and couples overcome the patterns that keep them from experiencing closeness in relationships.