The days have started to blur together. “They” were right – this day, next day, the other day, someday, have started to take on a meaning. I still have a semblance of a schedule given my tele-health work, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. The flow has found its way in this new way of living. My work allows me to connect with people in different parts of the world and the understanding of how different cultures are experiencing these lock-down, stay at home rules that have been enacted in various ways. Let’s just say, we are all reeling. I’ve witnessed many reactions – “I finally have time perception, the overwhelmed at needing to develop or upgrade technology skills, coming up with a whole new playbook so to speak in the working and connecting world, and the isolated/depressed/negative storm – one that I’ve had waves of myself. Emotions can move in with stealth as our emotional skins are rather thin right now. I experienced this wave Easter morning while watching a church service online.
The trigger was a change that required an adjustment. Within a millisecond, I felt the wave surge and the emotions begin their “familiar” pattern. The ANT” s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) came rolling in. Before I knew it, I was upset, sad, frustrated and discouraged all at the same time. On the surface, the event really didn’t measure up to what I experienced yet there it was. Another emotional allergy had surfaced. Based on my own work, I knew this could be another opportunity to learn and practice what I preach; yet at that moment I left my heart self and the joy of the day and slid right into misery. The damage had already been done, meaning my brain was already impacted by the stress response…and with all the emphasis on strengthening your immune system, I knew any imbalance sucks energy. Gratefully, I knew there was a way to regain the balance and get back on the even keel. Here are my tips:
- Always the awareness – know your body’s response to stressors. Notice mood, stomach, breath, muscle tightness, agitation, irritation, anger or fear. For me it was the wave of change – uncertainty, what’s going to happen energy.
- Connect the thoughts and beliefs – As difficult as this may be its key to the process.
- Avoid dwelling on negative thoughts. Sometimes the ego mind wants to take a bath in the stress and keep the punishment going. Any unhealed negative beliefs we carry can be activated – and sometimes in only that famous millisecond. For me, one of them was “It’s not fair, I thought……”
- Learn and practice self-compassion – This term is being used a lot these days when all of us are being tested on many levels. The book I’m suggesting is Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. I needed to try a few different approaches in order for my brain to “settle down” One of my favorites worked. I went out into nature. I spent time with my surroundings and looked for animals. It was only a beetle and a hummingbird – but wait…they are powerful medicine!
Beetles symbolize the importance of moving forward while using compromise and integrity as your guideposts. Change will most certainly come, and it is time to consider evaluating some of those old beliefs about yourself. I posed these as questions to myself. How am I going to accept these changes without compromising my own integrity while still compromising? Sometimes, in personal growth, integrity needs to be examined. When you can focus the stress on growth, the balance to that sense of balance can occur.
The hummingbird flew in towards the end of my hike and reminded me of its resiliency, joy, power, desire for sweetness and independence. Hummingbird lives in the present – it needs to focus on keeping its body in the air and doing all those amazing feats in the air. It is unique in the bird family.
- Start a meditation practice. This may depend on your personality/spiritual preferences, but most practices have similar features. Focus, calming, opening to the bigger picture and allowing a deeper connection to life. I started a couple of new ones – seeing which one worked better for me. I decided to keep both especially during this time. Allow sensations rather than control/manage or judge them. You need to develop brain muscle and mediation builds this.
During crisis times, brain is overworked, and brain health overlooked. The key here is knowledge and support. We all have capacity for a better functioning brain. Finding the motivation during stressful times is the trick. You can outsmart your ego-habitual mind to think and create the things your heart desires.
Begin with the end in mind. I saw a better mood and wisdom in my mind’s eye. In my case, I decided to go outside, find support in nature and my partner, go through the steps and make a new decision about how to think about the situation that had knocked me off balance. I even enjoyed the de-tox broth filled with healthy herbs and vegetables from the book Liver Rescue by Anthony Williams. It’s a process with many rewards.