Find Your Calm Again

Coronavirus wasn't the only thing that was spreading when the pandemic began. Memes about staying home during a lockdown being every introverts' dream come true were going viral on social media. 

"Introverts, this is the moment we've been preparing for all our lives." 

I chuckled as I read those memes because they reminded me of my husband, Juan. For introverts, staying home is their comfort zone because they can limit social interactions. For many extroverts like myself, it can be challenging because social interactions energize us. 

During the first few months of the pandemic, I was busy adjusting and didn't pay much attention to how I felt. But after that I was hit by a load of emotions. I began to realize what I was missing  the warmth and familiarity of my family in Malaysia, lively social gatherings, and adventurous travels. 


This crushing realization is a type of anxiety called 'fear of missing out' (FOMO). It can occur when we compare ourselves to others, or our regular lives to others' highlights on social media, or in some cases, from being constricted or worried during a pandemic. 

FOMO can creep into our minds in different ways and negative or unhelpful thoughts can start to form. In an article, Dr. Elizabeth Scott explains, "The fear of missing out refers to the feeling or perception that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things than you are. It involves a deep sense of envy and affects self-esteem." 

"FOMO is not just the sense that there might be better things that you could be doing at this moment, but it is the feeling that you are missing out on something fundamentally important that others are experiencing right now." 

This fear of not having or doing enough or missing out on a desired experience is something we can all relate to. Unfortunately, it can also lead to negative thoughts and anxiety. However, there are skills we can learn to manage our thoughts and reclaim our calm. 

Neutralize Your Thoughts 

Take a moment to listen to your thoughts and emotions. Name and observe them by giving them a chance to tell you what you need. Then, neutralize your thoughts by using objectivity to re-frame the story you tell yourself when you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts.

For example,
Negative thought: "I'm having a bad day. Nothing is going right."
Neutral thought: "I'm feeling overwhelmed today. I have had better days but I'm okay. I'm breathing. Tomorrow will be a new day."

Accepting how we feel instead of suppressing it allows us to accept a truth without judgement and self-honesty is integral to healing, change, and growth. Listening to our feelings objectively helps us to understand our deepest needs and accept what 'is' before gradually shifting lenses to see the situation with a more positive disposition.

(Knowing we're not alone is equally as important,  so I want to deeply emphasize this: You are not alone.) 

Harness Your Consciousness

Determined to lose weight, my friend saw a hypnosis therapist to help him achieve his goal. Initially, he didn't think the treatment worked and soon forgot about it. Six months later, he realized he had taken the steps to lose weight, such as exercising and consulting a nutritionist, which led him to lose many pounds. I was quite intrigued by his story but more so in relation to the power of our consciousness. 

Whether you choose to harness your consciousness through hypnosis, journalling, taking a personality test, or asking for feedback from others, self-awareness is a powerful way to open our minds and hearts to change and growth. It also allows us to understand the underlying reasons behind our negative thought patterns and emotional blocks. 
Some scientists claim the subconscious mind influences 95% our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, behavior, and habits. They suggest our subconscious is formed or "programmed" when our brains absorbed what we were exposed to verbally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically  both positive and negative  during the first seven years of our lives.

While the concept of the unconscious mind or the subconscious is heavily debated, modern psychologists continue to explore the influences of unconscious mental processes including related topics such as collective consciousness, unconscious bias, implicit memory, implicit attitudes, priming, and non-conscious learning.

Cultivate Self-Awareness

Understanding ourselves through self-awareness is not about placing blame or shame. It's about deciding who we want to be after we acknowledge where our beliefs, values, emotions, habits, and behavioral patterns have come from. By having self-awareness, we can heal from past traumas and eliminate unhelpful beliefs that we learned as children, and perhaps even as adults, that led to our fears and negative self-talk.

Be open to learning more about yourself. Accept where and who you are right now. Create awareness of your inner critic and replace destructive self-judgement with constructive curiosity and a sincere desire to change for the better. 

The reality is people only change when they want to and when they're ready, not because anyone asked them to. Without acceptance, it may be harder to reach a point where we feel ready because there will be resistance to change, even if it's positive. 

Practice Mindful Self-Compassion

I often have to remind myself that we're going through a pandemic, not as an excuse but as a valid reason for why I must be kinder to myself. In times of adversity, our humanness and limitations become more apparent for good purpose  to renew the way we see ourselves and nurture our humanity. As we focus on protecting ourselves and our loved ones from a life-threatening virus, we must also remember that we don't only have a need to be physically safe and healthy but to feel emotionally and psychologically secure and well, too. 

There are many ways to practice mindful self-compassion. In terms of clearing my mind from negative thoughts, I've embraced it by speaking to myself the way I would speak to a friend  to be present for them, support them, and bring out the best in them.  

The key is to first be aware of my default response or self-talk. If it's diminishing or corrosive, I consciously adopt a more compassionate tone, or at least an objective one, until I can see another perspective and a possible solution or outcome with more clarity. 


Neurologists discovered that regular meditation has a positive effect on the brain, or more precisely, the amygdala, which is the 'fight or flight' part of the brain that's responsible for anxiety, fear and stress. Meditation may not cure mental illnesses but it can help the healing process.

Meditation calms the chatter inside our minds that create anxiety due to excessive fear, worry, sadness, or anger. It doesn't seek to invalidate these emotions because the issue is not that we feel them, but that an excess of them creates stress and blocks us psychologically and emotionally.

Different individuals need different types of meditation. For some, the best meditation is being around nature. For others, it’s stillness during a guided meditation session, or spending time with people. Different situations call for different types of meditation, too. Hence, the importance of self-awareness through knowing what works for you and when.

As a Muslim, it was beneficial to know that early Muslims, including Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and renowned female saint and poet, Rabi'a al-Basri, practiced several types of meditation or mindfulness (muraqabah) that originated from the Islamic tradition, and or the remembrance of God (dhikr or tadhakkur) is one of them. 

In this six-minute video, Dr. Rania Aawad explains practices such as retreating, reflection, and remembrance of the Creator are part of the Islamic and Prophetic tradition (sunnah). 

Heal with Self-Love

As we practice mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-compassion, our fears and negative thoughts may not completely disappear but they might be more manageable. It takes time to break negative thought patterns we've had for many years. Be gentle and patient with yourself during this process.  Embracing our imperfections and imperfect lives is a form of self-love and healing. To love ourselves through the not-so-ideal moments, not just the happy ones  that's what love what is all about. 

Along the way, we'll also discover skills that transform the way we perceive ourselves and our circumstances, and give us the strength and resilience to accept the complexities of being human and the world we live in. 

Don't be discouraged by delays, setbacks, mistakes, and difficulties. The lessons from this time may be the very things that open doors for us in the future and present time. Perhaps learning to be kinder to ourselves and others is one of the most important lessons of our lives, as self-love is not only essential for us to survive  we need it to thrive, too. 


Unknown said…
I needed this, MashaAllah ❤️
Zainab_Lunariat said…
Beautifully Written. Thank you for this!