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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Is Your Light Blinking?

By Nannette S. Funderburk, PhD, LPCS / May 28, 2020

When the car’s check engine light comes on it is a signal to take action. Is your body’s check engine light on?

Nannette S. Funderburk, PhD, LPCS

There is no doubt that most of us have seen a blinking light on the dashboard of a car. The light comes on to get our attention and it says something is, or is soon-to-be, amiss in the functioning of the car. Possibly an oil change is needed or the tire pressure needs to be checked. Maybe the gas tank is close to empty, or it could be something as simple as your seatbelt is not fastened. Whatever the reason, the dash lights come on when something needs to be addressed. It’s a signal to take action.
During this time of expansive change in our communities due to COVID-19, some of us know that we are not coping well. Others of us cannot tell when we are not coping well. That is partially because the changes can be subtle, but that does not mean we are not impacted. Subtle changes are the dashboard lights that will quietly blink until the change in functioning is forced. What does a blinking light look like in our daily lives? It may look like this.

  • “I don’t feel like being bothered with anybody.” – Have you ever heard anyone say this? There’s nothing wrong that they can articulate, however, being around people starts to feel cumbersome and it could easily irritate or agitate the individual.
  • “I’m so tired lately.” – This person usually is not doing more than usual, and actually may be getting more rest than usual but it never seems to be enough.
  • “I can’t relax.” – This person, who could be described as “tired but wired”, is very tired, however, they can’t seem to relax enough to get restful sleep. This person may take over-the-counter or prescribed sleep agents. Sometimes this person may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to sleep.
  • “I just don’t have an appetite” or “I can’t get enough to eat” – Changes in our eating patterns are always a sign. Many have joked about the “Quarantine 15”, a play on the words “Freshman 15” that alludes to gaining 15 pounds during the freshman year of college. Many are noticing weight gain while spending more time at home. There are however, those who feel too down or anxious to eat. This person may feel nauseous or bloated when they eat.

So what do I do if my light is blinking? First, acknowledge that something is going on that has the potential to negatively impact your life. What happens if we ignore the fuel light or the check engine light in our cars? The car will not run smoothly. These things can be handled easily with regular maintenance, however, without maintenance it shortens the life of the car. Second, seek help. After you acknowledge that your car needs gas, you seek out the gas station. So, what are the things that fuel you? For some of us that will be doing something we enjoy, like watching a great movie to escape the day-to-day. For others it may mean connecting with a friend or a therapist to unload the frustration or fear we have been carrying. Finally, once you connect with help, recognize that you must connect with it regularly. Just like in the life of a car, maintenance is key. We cannot expect one filled gas tank to last forever.
Acknowledge that you’re human and will need support at various times throughout your life, seek help from credible sources, and connect with healthy help on a regular basis.

The S.E.L. Group, The Social and Emotional Learning Group, is located at 3300 Battleground Ave. Suite 202, Greensboro. Phone 336-285-7173.
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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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