Today was a bad day, a really bad day. Today was the kind of day that defined the term “put through a meat grinder.” By the time I got home my feet were sore and my head was both throbbing and exhausted. I had one of those rare moments when I began to question what I was doing with my professional life and considering a job change (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, if you have the right reasons).
I work in a small office. We work very closely in an intense environment for sometimes 12 hours a day. Dealing with life and death, really.
Today was a day when things were going wrong personally and/or professionally for almost all of my coworkers. The day was filled with tragedies, both real and imagined. A mood crept over us all, one of desperation and hopelessness. I understand how dramatic this description sounds, but some of these people are going through really terrible things.
After I got home and tried to ready myself for the transition from work life to family life, I realized something. Nothing terrible was happening to me. Not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of despair in life, boy oh boy. But today, nothing was going terribly wrong for me, personally.
Except for maybe the fact that I am what some people refer to as a “highly sensitive person”, or “HSP” for short. I’m not going to go into particulars here, but I will tell you that the reason I think MY day turned out so awful was because I tend to empathize rather than sympathize. Mind you, I do not at all believe that we can EVER really know how someone else experiences anything. But for whatever reason, other peoples’ sadness can be quite contagious for me. Am I the only one like this? Maybe, maybe not.
Below is a short list of things I have found to be helpful when the world just seems wrong.
Just for a moment if you can, give yourself a break. I find that simply being able to stop doing a task for a short time allows me to feel that I have some control.
No really, this has got to be one of the most highly underrated coping strategies ever. Take a big, long, deep breath. Feel your lungs fill with air, straighten your back, and let your shoulders fall.
Learn to Sympathize
Unfortunately, there are dreadful things that happen in the world. It’s easy (especially for some of us) to feel like the world is hopeless, especially when interacting with individuals who are facing life’s biggest and baddest obstacles. Learn to give the appropriate condolence and help each other where you can, but try not to “absorb” other people’s sorrow. If you need justification, know that people who are experiencing terrible things often need strong people around them. You can’t be strong when you’re feeling their misery for them.
Take Care of Yourself
It sounds trite, but it’s true. It’s a great deal more possible for anyone (HSP or not) to lose control of their emotions and mood when their basic needs aren’t being met. Water, food, rest, and a safe environment for yourself should be high on your priority list.
Hope this is helpful. Stay cozy.