How are we, really?

I think it is safe to say that America is in a collective state of turmoil. It’s not really necessary to detail all of the terrible (and probably traumatizing) events that have happened in our nation in the past weeks. Anyone who scrolls social media or follows mainstream media outlets has heard, probably over and over, about the trials, the tragedies, the tears, and the immeasurable sense of fear.

As a nation, we are not okay. 

As humans, we are not designed to experience and endure all this pain. Our bodies and brains are wired to respond to immediate threats and then to return to regular, everyday living. Biologically, we simply do not have the capacity to endure prolonged, elevated, and intense emotional and physical stress. It literally wears us out.

So, whatever you are feeling, whether it be sadness, anger, fear, frustration, disgust, or literally any other feeling, it is 100% ‘normal’ to have difficulty coping with those feelings. It is understandable if those feelings are so big that you aren’t sure how to get out of bed in the morning. It’s understandable if those feelings make it really hard to get to sleep or to feed your body in a healthy way. It’s even understandable if those feelings are making you not feel like yourself anymore. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you for feeling overwhelmed or for feeling like everything, well, sucks.

These reactions are ‘normal’, and even expected. The good news, though, is that there are some things you can do to make your feelings a little less overwhelming and a whole lot more manageable.

  1. Name your feelings. It sounds simple, but our feelings often become significantly more manageable when we are able to give them a name. It’s hard to know how to deal with  a general feeling of overwhelm, but we can maybe come up with ways to deal with sad, frustrated, or scared. If you’re having trouble naming your feelings, it’s okay to look up a list of feeling words online.
  2. Express your feelings. There is just something cathartic about getting your feelings out of the confines of your mind and giving them some air. You can write about your feelings, talk about them, or even sing or dance them out. Music, art, and movement are great options, as well.
  3. Take time to connect with yourself. Engage in activities that are soothing and bring you feelings of comfort and peace. Take time to notice how you feel in your body. Is your jaw clenched? Take some deep breaths and relax those muscles. Are your shoulders tight? Do some stretches to work out some of the tension. Are you hungry or thirsty? Have you been eating poorly, and your body needs a vegetable? Taking some time to notice what your body needs and then taking care of those needs really can work wonders.
  4. Take time to connect with others. Connecting with our family and friends helps us to know we are not alone. It’s magical how knowing that others feel the same feelings we do can make our own emotional load a little lighter. It often feels better to know that we’re all in this thing called life together.
  5. Take time for fun. Laughter really is the best medicine sometimes. Have dinner with a friend. Go on a hike with your dog. Ride a roller coaster. Whatever “fun” is for you, do it. It’s still okay to have fun, even when your world feels like it’s falling apart.
  6. Ask for help. When the weight of our feelings gets too heavy, it’s time to ask for help. Maybe you need help with housework because it all just feels too hard, or you need someone to talk to because your feelings are just too heavy to carry on your own. If you need help finding a therapist, we’re here for you. You can reach out through our website, by emailing, or by phone at 217-714-7042. Asking for help can feel really hard, but I promise it’s worth it.

Brittney Homann, MSW, MS Ed., LCSW, has over 15 years of experience working with children and their families in Central Illinois. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a BS in Special Education in 2004 and a MS in Education in 2013. Brittney completed the MSW program at UIUC in 2019, and she has extensive training and experience in treating childhood and family-based trauma, anxiety, depression, disruptive behaviors, and other mental health disorders. Brittney is LBGTQ+ affirming and welcomes children and adolescents with co-occurring Autistic or cognitive disorders, as well as parents/caregivers and young adults.