How to Navigate Public Spaces and More

How to Navigate Public Spaces and More


Reach out. Not every store is adopting the same policies or protective measures. For instance, some stores are asking customers to bring their own reusable bags and others are asking them not too. “It’s still very fluid,” Ms. Strange said. If you’re uncertain about current protocol, call the store or check its website for the latest information.

[Read more: Who Knew Grocery Shopping Could Be So Stressful?]

Give some leeway. Do not expect immediate responses from anyone you contact. Similarly, don’t expect yourself to respond to calls and check-ins right away. “Let your people know when you have the bandwidth and when you don’t,” said Summer Brown, a family and marriage therapist.

If you’re inundated, decide which mode of communication is the best for you — texts, emails, calls — and respond only in that medium.

If you have anyone particularly needy in your orbit, regularly review how the communication is going. Suggest adjustments if the frequency of calls isn’t working for either of you. When you do talk with friends and loved ones, Ms. Brown said, it’s not a good idea for people to dump their feelings on someone or let yourself be dumped on. It helps to ask for consent first: “Is this a good time for me to vent for 10 minutes?”

If you need a break, let people know you aren’t up to speaking. Ms. Brown said we should be authentic, honest and genuine when setting limits. “Hold your ground,” she said. “Don’t get swayed by their tantrum to your limit setting.” This goes both ways: Accept if someone else declines your invitations to talk. Allow them the space they need.

Manage your own distress. “So often we act like our anxiety is the responsibility of our spouse, our friends, or anyone we encounter who could possibly calm us down,” said Kathleen Smith, a therapist and the author of “Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety, and Finally Calm Down.” “You may not have caused the anxiety, but what you do with it, how you handle it, is your responsibility,” Dr. Smith said.



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