Think back to March. Everything seemed uncertain. We had very little information, and there seemed to be no place to find details that we, as humans, need to function.
We heard everything from “the virus is manmade”, to “it will just “disappear”, to “Mother Earth is setting limits on us”. And there were numerous other theories.
We began to make whatever meaning we could just to get through each day.
*Take 60 seconds, close your eyes, and allow yourself to remember what you heard in the beginning. Remember how you felt. We still don’t have much information, so your reaction may or may not have changed much!
What does it matter what you thought of the reason or meaning of the pandemic? As I tell my clients, I believe our thoughts greatly influence how we perceive, and experience our lives. More on this later.
Over the next 10 months, we have moved forward through misinformation, politicizing of the virus, blatant bigotry, increased awareness of racial injustice, protests, riots, massive unemployment, and the constant awareness of illness and/or death. And that’s not all.
Some of us have adapted by drinking more, eating more, watching tv more. Some of us have gone inside, journaled more, meditated more, and/or struggled to understand our losses and our grief. Many of our bodies have been in physiological shock this entire time, either existing in fight or flight, or going into a hopeless, numb place of feeling like we’ve just been caught by a lion and there is no where to run.
*Allow yourself to sit and consider what impacts you have felt, and how you have adapted in the last 9 months.
There are numerous articles on the web that offer ways to “manage” what we are experiencing. I’m going to offer what I consider important, and that I believe can make a difference in your daily life.
1. Acknowledge your feelings. Being strong or capable does not mean ignoring feelings. Every one of us is having strong reactions right now. Did you know that ignoring feelings can impact your physical body and cause illness?
2. Acknowledge your sadness and let yourself grieve. We are all experiencing loss, whether it be of friends, colleagues, routines, work…or a loved one.
3. Practice gratitude. Often people try to be grateful by discounting their feelings, and then report it doesn’t feel real. My suggestion? First, acknowledge and feel the emotions, then move to appreciation.
4. Practice “the art of allowing”, or being here now. All we really have is right now. When we allow, without judgement, our bodies relax.
5. See yourself with compassion. Beating up ourselves for not accomplishing more doesn’t really help us. Compassion for what we are going through does.
6. Identify what is in your control. You cannot change the healthcare system, or politicians’ daily behaviors, or other people’s decisions, but you can control your response to them. Look around and find what you can impact.
7. Help your body to know it’s not running from a tiger. How do we do that? Shake your arms. Drink cold water. Put ice on your wrists. Sigh…loudly. Make the sound a motorboat with your lips. Move. Find what ever connections you have possible. Our body calms down when we feel safe, and when we feel connected.
8. Meditate. This doesn’t have to be clearing your mind and sitting for an hour, or even 20 minutes. Just close your eyes, and take some deep, slow breaths for few minutes throughout the day. It’s about reminding your body it can be regulated.
9. If you are open to it, do some energy work. Balance chakras, de-cord, or cleanse your energy field.
10. And the last one I’m going to offer is very important:
Examine the story you are telling yourself about this year and notice the emotional connection.
Do you see this year as a punishment? A fluke? A chemical attack? The end of the world as we know it? Mother Earth setting limits on us? A natural cycle of life and death? A pattern of destruction and creation? A dark time to go inside? Perhaps a time for needed social or cultural change?
Think about about your reaction to each of these. Our thoughts create much of our experience. These stories can bring up fear, anger, sadness, shame. Or they can create curiosity or contemplation. Depending on your story, you might be feeling victimized and alone, or you might be seeing this as a sacred time to examine your life and/or how you prioritize your life. The meaning we make sets the tone for our moving forward into 2021.
*Now it’s time to close your eyes again. What kinds of stories have you been telling yourself? And how have you perceived yourself through that story?
What if you could shift that story?
Let’s make 2021 a year where we consciously write our own story.
Starla R Sholl, LCSW
Content provided by Women Belong member Starla R. Sholl, LCSW, PC