Do you feel trapped, suffocated, confused, overwhelmed and helpless being at home during this pandemic? Maybe you are feeling conflicted about the fear of going outside, protecting others but then being at home feels equally or even more unsafe? Maybe you feel like the chaos and arguing going on at home is too much? Do you feel that your boundaries are consistently being disrespected? Being at home and not being able to get out of this type of living situation can cause a lot of stress and can wreck havoc on your mental health.
Let me first say I hear you and that is so, so, so difficult.
None of us were prepared for this pandemic and so navigating through new coping, resources, and experiences can be tough and overwhelming. If you are living in a toxic environment and it's hard to find relief or space I wanted to provide a few suggestions to help you to get through this time. These are not quick fixes but the hope is to provide some tools to manage these difficult situations.
1. Your safety is the most important thing. I wish someone had told me that when I was going through my difficult living experience. We all need safety in our own home. Yes, physical safety is important but so is emotional and mental safety. If your physical safety is being threatened I would highly suggest you remove yourself and go to a safe area or place because this should never be compromised and your safety and protection matter most. It gets a little more tricky when it comes to our emotional and mental health because the wounds aren't always visible. However, protecting our mental health in a toxic atmosphere is essential to our well being.
2. Create your own safe spaces. I know this is hard right now because we are so limited but it is so important when you are in a difficult living situation to create your own physical,emotional,mental safe space. This could look like being in your own room, taking walks outside, driving around in your car. It could also look like keeping your ear phones on and listening to music to drown out the sounds in your environment. Whatever helps to provide yourself with a safe space within the difficult situation may help to provide some relief.
3. Create safety with other people. More than ever, I think it's a time where we need others. This could be in the form of friendships, support groups, churches, or therapists. Reaching out for support if you don't have it doesn't make you less than in anyway. We all need eachother especially in a time of unpredictability and when our safety is being questioned. When we have the support from others and connect with others in an emotional safe way it can be an anchoring resource especially when our living situation is chaotic or toxic.
4. Identify and figure out what your boundaries are in your living situation. Boundaries can be there to help us to protect our own physical,emotional and mental needs.I would encourage you to take a sheet of paper and write down what you need. Not what is expected, not what is happening, not what is told to you but what you need. From there figure out how to get your needs met in the environment that you're living in. You might not be able to get your needs met, your needs may not be respected but having that identified first you can then find creative ways to protect and foster what you need as much as possible.
5. Use your senses to ground yourself. It's difficult to find a sense of security when we don't feel emotionally and mentally safe. Finding ways to create safety within ourselves is important. Using your 5 senses such as: sights, smells, touch, sounds, and taste can be helpful ways to ground ourselves in our environment. For example, this could look like rearranging your safe place to create a peaceful space. Surrounding yourself with smells that help to bring a calming effect. Maybe walking around and noticing how touch and physical movement helps with bringing some type of stability.
Everyone will be different but finding what you can control and implement can help to bring a sense of security.
These are just a few suggestions to hopefully help get through and manage the feelings of being trapped in difficult situation. Remember again if your physical safety is being threatened to remove yourself and find a safe place. I hope you know that you are not alone and there is always support and help.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. The topics being discussed are meant as a self-help tool for you own use. It is not psychotherapy or counseling. This information is to be used based on your own judgment. If you need to speak with a professional, you should find one local to you and contact them directly.
National Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Sharon Chan, LMFT