The Ostrich: Are You Burying Your Head in the Sand?

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By: Sandra Holmes, Ph.D.
Sandra Holmes is Director of Outpatient Services, Behavioral Health, at North Mississippi Health Services. 

Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, we want to make like an ostrich and bury our head in the sand or deny what is really going on and continue forward as if everything is just fine, while on the inside we really do not feel that way. Some of us may become anxiety-ridden – the image of the ostrich at the zoo running around with no true direction comes to mind.

2020 has been an interesting and difficult year full of new challenges and opportunities. How do you keep yourself steady and steadfast when encountering a pandemic in a world of uncertainty? Focusing your energy on your priorities and on those items in your zone of control is key.

Some say there are six dimensions of life that need to be nurtured. I like this model and have used it with groups of all ages over the past 33 years. It may seem simplistic, but it is practicing the basics that gets us through the difficult times:

Social — We are social beings. We need engagement and interaction with friends and loved ones. Recognize the need for this connection, and determine ways to keep these connections no matter your circumstances. Play together and pray together as you go through good and difficult times.

Emotional — Yes, some of us tend to be more thinkers than feelers, but for all of us it is important to acknowledge and give respect to our feelings and be sensitive to the feelings of others. Happy may be easier to own, but it is OK to express when you feel mad, sad or scared. While being realistic about circumstances, look for possible positive outcomes or things you are grateful for each day.

Spiritual — Believing in a power that is greater than ourselves and knowing how we relate and nurture this in our life is crucial. Spend time in reflection and participating in spiritual activities. Pray, sing, dance, whatever connects you spiritually to your higher power. 

Physical — Caring for your body through proper diet and exercise is very important, especially during these times. Also, be sure to learn relaxation techniques and practice good sleep hygiene.

Intellectual — Continual learning and curiosity like that of a child can help keep your mind young. Try learning new things and enjoying new hobbies. Focus on ways to continually develop your brain.

Life Planning — Goals: What’s next? Where are you headed? Making plans of where you want to be in six months, one year or five years, broken into steps can be very fulfilling as you watch your goals come to fruition. Look for realistic goals that will help you to see advancement and that you can celebrate along the way.

Practicing these basic principles can help us to remain our best, no matter what is taking place in the world around us.

Life is full of ups and downs. Often those “downs” fade quickly. Sometimes they linger on, so that personal problems begin to interfere with your ability to work and enjoy life. If personal problems are affecting your job or other areas of your life, reach out to a trusted mental health professional.