The whole world changed with the arrival of the Corona Pandemic. None of us expected a 2020 like the one we were given when we toasted every one on December 31st. We all have been adjusting to new scenarios and circumstances and sadly, some of us are adjusting to profound loss. The losses that occur are diverse from a strong sense of self and accomplishment to the loss of a beloved. Rightly so, these experiences may have us reeling as if we’ve been punched in the gut. Other visceral images come to mind to describe the disconnect one feels when previous routines, surroundings, and conditions abruptly change without warning. Times like these have given birth to phrases like ‘having the rug pulled out from under you,’ etc.. Regardless of the metaphor, what can one do? It’s not a matter of “should” but more of a framework to give comfort and structure when all feels lost and uprooted.
1-Realize that the circumstances and accompanying emotions are temporary and ever changing. Nothing in life is permanent and “this too shall pass.” Every season has a lesson to be learned and a song to sing, even it’s the blues. Surrender to the prevailing emotions and give yourself permission to feel all that comes through and give it permission to leave. There’s no reason to fear the strong emotion that is coming. You do not have to be in control of it. You can cry all you want. Relax into it as if you were body surfing in the current of the ocean and ride the wave to the shore. Too often culture tells us to dry your eyes and stop crying when and some of us feel like we “shouldn’t cry” even when our loved one is not with us in their physical form. Loss is the time to cry. It’s time to let the our bodies do what it needs to do and shrug off any expectation to be something other than you.
2- Show yourself kindness and compassion through this specific season. Behave to yourself the way your best of friends would behave with you and, especially what they would tell you. Purge any self-deprecating statements that run across your mind. Brush off any concepts of how you should be doing in a time like this. You are unique and no one else can live your life and know your circumstances. Allow yourself to be you in this season of your life. If you’re crying, sleeping, listless, and want to remain in your pajamas, note the feeling on your calendar and do what your emotions are telling you to do.
3-Journal insights and thoughts. This is a prime time to get to know yourself better and write down your thoughts. Once you’ve exhausted what’s in your heart and mind then re-read your musings as an objective reader. See whether you can identify assumptions shown and challenge them. Ask yourself questions about them. How does your life’s experiences color your assumptions? Maybe you’ll come to different conclusions or discover options you would not have invented otherwise.
3-Exercise each day. Engage in a simple activity to get your heart racing and make you bust a sweat even for 2 seconds. Don’t make a grandiose request of yourself that you couldn’t possibly accomplish even on an awesome day. Ideas are: lift your knees to your waist, dance to a fun song, sit down on a chair and get up repeatedly, twist and throw your arms from side to side, hold a plank pose, bend over and straighten your legs, etc. Do it for an easily accomplished amount of time and I am not joking about 2 seconds. The point is to start.
4- Imagine who will understand what you are going through and make plans to get together via virtual meeting, phone call, or video message. I’ve been using the Marco Polo app to leave video messages that someone can look at and reply with a video message at their convenience. You can find out more here. https://www.marcopolo.me. Most of what we go through in life has been experienced by someone. We are never alone and never that unusual. Connect with someone who cares and can listen.
5-Rate your day on a scale of 1 to 5 each day and mark it on your calendar. 1 is the lowest you could feel and 5 is the best you could feel. Take a photo of yourself at each point on the scale so you understand how you’re feeling and what is associated with it. Track your rating weekly. What is the trend telling you? What are lessons learned? What feels like quick sand that is hard to get out of? Write all of the insights down and find 3 things for which to be grateful. Write those statements of gratitude down.
6-Engage in a spiritual practice whether it be prayer, meditation, chanting, deep breathing, or all of the above. Rid yourself of expectations that you have to be an experienced in these methods in order to engage in them. Your method is your own. Set time aside to do it, sit or lay down, and see what happens.
When going through a tough time, a place you might not have experienced before; it is difficult and at times over whelming. It’s difficult to think beyond the rut you think you have found yourself. The reality is that it’s not a rut but a down swing of good times. These ups and downs are a part of life and it’s best to get comfortable and relaxed and enjoy the ride. Your life will go up again and it will go down. You have a created your own handbook of those tough times and know more about who you are when you are having a “valley experience.” Perhaps it will serve you well on the next down turn? Perhaps you can write your own blog about how you enjoyed the heck out of that downward turn.