Red Table Talk is a powerful show that isn’t afraid to dive deep. Jada Pinkett Smith, along with her mother Adrienne and daughter Willow, invite guests to join the three generations of women in open conversations about issues like marriage, race, addiction, and healing.
In this week’s episode, motivational speaker Jay Shetty and clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula joined the red table to offer advice for those suffering from anxiety as the world grapples with the coronavirus.
Here are their best tips:
Don’t judge your reaction.
Right now, there’s a lot of fear and concern about the pandemic. Maybe your patience is low or you’ve found that your eating habits are off. Don’t judge yourself for your response to these troubled times. They’re not normal circumstances so how could you feel normal? And never worry about how others perceive your reactions.
Ask how you can be of service.
When the news seems so negative, it’s important that we remember we can make a positive change in our communities. Good at sewing? Try making some
face masks to donate. Love animals? Drop off some pet food at your local shelter. Have an elderly neighbor? Offer to do their grocery shopping. There’s always a way to help others, and that can be rewarding on so many levels.
Stay in touch with family and friends.
Though we can no longer meet with friends and family in person, it’s still imperative that your support system remains strong. Jay reminds us that “you can still have a shared experience without being in the same space.” Pursue new ways of connecting like virtual happy hour, playing games together, or video calling for dinner.
Be mindful of how much pain you accept.
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Social media is an incredible tool to keep you informed, but it also immerses you in stories of other people’s suffering in times like these. Jay says, “We’re just hearing about each and every person’s pain, and that’s a lot of pain to process… We have to become careful with whose pain and how much pain we can take on.” It’s not a cure-all but setting limits on screen time can help ease some anxiety.
Jay advises us to remember the acronym TIME, which stands for “thankfulness, intention, meditation, and exercise.” He says, “Those are four things that are gonna boost your immune system, it’s gonna boost your mood, it’s gonna boost your confidence and self-esteem. It’s gonna get you through this.” Since most of us are stuck at home, we’ve got nothing but time to work on these.
Keep a routine.
Maintaining a routine will bring you comfort. When there’s so much going on in the world that you have no power over, it becomes empowering to deliberately take control of your own actions. Sticking with a routine means waking up at the same time each day and adhering to a strict bedtime. It can also include activities like taking a walk after dinner or listening to positive music when you wake up.
It’s not your job to convince your friends to take this seriously.
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It can be frustrating to see loved ones who aren’t practicing social distancing or taking the pandemic seriously. However, Dr. Ramani reminds us, “It’s not your job to convince your friends. It is your job to communicate to your friends.” If you’ve shared your thoughts and feelings with your friends, that’s all you can do!
Take the time to grieve.
This pandemic has upended countless plans: weddings have been postponed, graduations have been cancelled, and professional opportunities have been taken away. These are significant moments in our lives. Allow yourself to mourn. To those who feel guilty for grieving an event when so many in the world are losing their lives, Dr. Ramani reminds us, “It’s okay to grieve. There is no loss too small.”
Cry it out.
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed with emotion, let it out! Dr. Ramani says, “I don’t know when crying went out of fashion, but it’s so good.” Once you let out a good cry, it’s easier to view a situation calmly. According to
HuffPost, crying can also improve your mood and relieve stress.
Ask for all the time and space you need from your partner.
Couples living together are suddenly spending more time with one another than perhaps they ever have before. Even in the best circumstances, this could cause friction. Jay states, “If you’re just seeking more space in your relationship, I think one of the bigger mistakes we often make is that we express what we want, but we don’t explain why we want it.” Try telling your partner you’d like a few hours alone to recharge or want to a take a drive to gather your thoughts. Who knows? Maybe your partner will appreciate a moment alone, too!
Focus on the present.
Anxiety generally stems from worrying about the past or the future. Make a conscious effort to remain in the present as much as possible. Practice what Dr. Ramani calls “informal mindfulness” – grounding yourself in the now as you complete simple tasks like washing your hands.
Remember that you can only give if you’re not empty yourself.
To those in essential services such as healthcare workers, grocery store staff, truck drivers and more, remember to take care of yourself first. Jay offers this metaphor: “If I saw someone drowning, if I’m a strong healthy lifeguard, then I can go dive in and pull them out ’cause I’ve got the strength to do that, but if I haven’t, then I’m gonna get pulled in, too.”
Get enough rest.
Dr. Ramani reminds us to “get plenty of rest. This is the time to do it.” A full night’s rest is imperative right now. Lack of sleep can affect your mood and cause a host of
other issues. If you’ve been too anxious to fall asleep easily, meditation, a warm bath, lowering the temperature in your room, and avoiding screen time before bed can help.
Rewire your thoughts on loneliness.
This new quarantine lifestyle has left many with more alone time than usual. Jay says, “The word we always use for being alone is loneliness, but there is another word, and that word’s solitude… While loneliness is feeling alone and having no company, solitude is about being the best company for yourself.” Take the opportunity to cultivate your relationship with yourself. Savor activities you enjoy alone like drinking your tea in peace or reading quietly.
Say it out loud.
If you have a lot on your mind, Jay recommends “voice noting it to yourself ’cause you wanna be heard… You get to hear yourself as a friend. You hear your own voice, and you can be there for yourself.” Speak your struggles aloud to find relief. This is an especially helpful tool if you don’t like journaling because it can offer a similarly cathartic release without the writing.
And please your senses.
Sometimes we forget that we’re sensory creatures. Intentionally invite things into your day that will please all your senses. Look at art that inspires you. Light your favorite scented candle. Play some soothing nature sounds. Wear those fuzzy pajamas. Savor your dessert. Showing love to all five senses can do wonders.
You can watch the whole Red Table Talk episode on Facebook.