“You feel what you feel, and your feelings are real.” — Sven
I was wearing a mask the other day and a friend made statements that made me feel shameful for trying to be proactive. All over social media I see people criticizing each other for their feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic. I think during this unprecedented season we need to support each other, not just by meeting physical needs but also meeting our mental health needs.
We all have emotions but we all express them differently. Throughout Frozen 2 we see how powerful emotions are: they can blind us, confuse us and even scare us. It is easy for us to hide our feelings out of fear that people won’t understand us or will think that we are just “too much” for them.
However, when we mask our true feelings it can create anxiety where we become overwhelmed by our emotions in an unhealthy way, leading to fear-based behavior. It’s important to talk about how we feel when we are angry, disappointed or scared.
We see how when joyful and carefree Olaf confesses to Anna that he feels anger and hurt, Anna quickly reminded him that his feelings are normal. This is so important for us to do, to create a safe space for our friends and family to be real and vulnerable about their feelings, especially during this pandemic, so that we can remain mentally healthy.
Here are some practical ways to do that as a family:
- At dinnertime go around the table and talk about how everyone is feeling. When you as a parent go first, it will give kids permission to be real and name their feelings out loud, too. Understanding and being aware of our feelings help us learn how to handle our emotions.
- Talking about feelings and having hard conversations while you walk or during a car ride is easier because it limits direct eye contact, which can be intimidating for some.
- Practice healthy coping mechanics to help you not be overwhelmed by feelings. Memorize scripture or other meaningful words, pray together or try deep breathing techniques.
- Create boundaries or limits around social media and phones. It is hard to connect with each other when everyone is staring at their screens! Sometimes we miss important cues or subtle signs given off by those around us when we are occupied on the phone.
- Be careful not to label people with a diagnosis based on their feelings. Your feeling is real, but you are not your feeling. Feelings are not facts; they are constantly changing, so we don’t define ourselves or others by what they feel. Limit strong words like depression and anxiety; leave that for the professionals.
- Check in one or two extended family members or friends daily during this pandemic and be a safe place for them to be real with their feelings. We need each other more than ever.
Simi John is married to her best friend and they pastor New Life Bible Church in Norman. They have two kids and love exploring OKC. Simi is a speaker and author. She just released her first book: “I Am Not: Break Free From Stereotypes & Become The Woman God Made You To Be” (available on Amazon). Connect with Simi on Instagram @simijohn.