In times of high stress, self-care is essential. But, self-care is not just about doing the things that keep you entertained, active, your body fit and beautiful, and your mind interested in life and everyone around you. It’s not just about keeping ‘the body’ healthy and in good working order and ‘the thinking mind’ engaged. It’s about ensuring the whole body — the physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual self – is honoured as a collective. It’s about ensuring you are promoting well-being in all of you as a whole – from how you express yourself through your words, acts and deeds, in your thoughts and in your relationships. And, how you respond to your emotions and feelings.
When forced, as Covid-19 is doing, to change our social ways of being together, to self-isolate and draw away from human contact, it is only natural that our emotions can feel like they are all over the map. There’s no guidebook on how to do this and there is no one single human being on this planet who has done it before.
We are one human race learning how to navigate these waters together.
This is the first time for all 7+billion of us.
And our emotions are with us. They are part of us and how well we take care of them will be reflected in how we respond to the day-to-day of this crisis: Healthily. Unhealthily. Lovingly. Cruelly. Kindly. Unjustly…
Right now, there are people feeling scared, stressed, anxious, alone, frightened, cowardly, confused, bitter, resentful, resistant, sad, depressed, bombastic, arrogant, flippant, distanced, hopeless, helpless, alone… These are all natural responses to change and the unknown. To crisis and stress. To what is happening in the world right now.
It isn’t what we’re feeling that makes our world better, or worse. It’s honouring and expressing our feelings and emotions in ways that create harmony, peace, kindness, joy, love within us and all around us, that will create the change we want to see in the world.
Being able to name our emotions is the first step in honouring them.
Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? In this moment? What am I willing to acknowledge as present? What am I avoiding?
See, I can acknowledge that I am feeling calm, present, happy even.
However, because I have a life-long aversion to admitting I am feeling sad, scared, confused… I like to avoid those emotions. When I was a little girl ‘being happy’ was how I avoided feeling sad, scared, confused by all that was going on in the world around me. I remember my father saying, “You’d better be happy! You’ve got a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes. You have no right to be sad.”
Do you think that messaging still plays out in my life today?
If I don’t take good care of my emotional self, if I do not honour ALL that I am feeling, it most definitely does — and believe me, when I am not paying attention to all my feelings and honouring them in life-giving ways, my expression of those messages is not very pretty!
There are many ways to take care of your emotional well-being.
Meditation. Breathing. Being in nature. Holding silence as a gift. Art-making. Reading. Spending time with a loved one. Talking with a friend.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help you find your emotional balance and keep you from tearing up your world.
But, in those moments when something in the here and now triggers a response from way back when we were children learning to cope with things in our world that frightened, confused, hurt us, we need to step up and get accountable for our responses.
In those moments, it is imperative to BREATHE. Slow down. BREATHE.
In those moments, you can even close your eyes when you breathe, just for a moment. BREATHE.
In those moments, one of the things that I do is I touch where my heart is with my right hand as I BREATHE.
Sometimes, I look away from whomever I’m engaged with (just for a moment) and then, return my eyes to look deeply into theirs.
Sometimes, I ask the other person to BREATHE with me. To look into my eyes as I look into theirs.
And I BREATHE.
I know how easy it is to want to take flight or fight in those moments.
I know how the thinking mind wants to take over and ensure we tell the other person why it’s all their fault, how they are wrong, how they are….
Before you say anything to the other, repeat silently to yourself,:
Like me, you are struggling to cope with the unkown and stress of all that is going on.
Like me, you are feeling feelings you cannot name.
Like me, you have been scared by all of this.
Like me, you have been confused by all of this.
Like me, you are learning how to navigate all of this for the very first time.
Like me, you want to live.
Like me, you want to protect those you love and yourself, from this virus.
Like me, you’re not sure you can.
Like me, you are feeling lost, frightened and very very concerned about what the future will hold.
And then, ask yourself, “What can I do right now to create better in this situation?
What can I do to build a bridge of compassion and love between our hearts?
And then…. do that. Do that one thing you can think of that will bring you closer, not drive you apart.
And after you’ve done that one thing, do the next one thing and then the next.
Always building bridges of compassion and love.
Always drawing closer.
Always expressing your emotions in ways that do not destroy the feelings of love and joy, harmony and grace you want to have fill up your world.