This month marks a year since we started dealing with Covid-19. How are you doing? For many of us it’s been a long, long struggle. At first, we thought…OK we can do this…just buck up, stay at home and wash our hands. As the months have dragged on, we may have reached one or two breaking points….how long is this going on? When will I ever see my family or my friends again…when will I be able to hug them?
And all this time, our nervous systems have been on high alert. We have been in that flight, fight or freeze state. And that has taken a toll on our mind, body and spirit.
First, I want to remind us that gratitude is in order….I know that may sound counter-intuitive, but when have I ever been predictable:) We have Central Nervous Systems that work!! They are doing what they are intended to do. When a threat appears, the old primitive brain goes to work…warning us about imminent danger…protecting us from harm. The problem is…it’s been doing that for a long sustained time.
We need to step back now and start We-covering. What do I mean by that? I mean, even thought we have been keeping our distance from each other (for all the good reasons our health experts tell us on a daily basis), we must realize that we need to do this recovery work together.
Of course we must continue being cautious, wearing masks, washing hands and measuring our 2 metre distance AND I really believe that the antidote to this on-going threat is Connection. This pandemic has shown us two things very clearly:
We are all vulnerable.
We all need each other.
Together, we are much stronger! How do we find that connection, that warmth in spite of isolation, poverty, death, racial and class issues, illness and identity crises?
Here are a few ways we can help our nervous systems recover and allow us to feel the connection we sorely need.
- Longer Exhalation – Some of us may be doing daily breathing exercises and that’s great. For those who aren’t, I really want to suggest that you at least focus on longer exhalations. This has been proven effective in calming our nervous systems immediately. Just remind yourself several times a day to breath out – long and slow – and you will find yourself feeling calmer and more able to focus. Encourage others to do the same.
- Allow Curiosity about the Nervous System – If we ignore it, it will continue this pattern of high alert, cause more anxiety and exhaust us in the process. Get to know how it works and what it responds to. Help yourself to calm down.
Deeper curiosity about how our systems work could lead us to understand more about anxiety and depression and therefore how better to manage it. We may come to appreciate how complex we are and have new appreciation for that.
- Warmth and Presence – We can continue to practice warm eyes, even when wearing masks! Projecting warmth and compassion by being completely present when we are greeting or talking with another will heighten that sense of Connection in both parties. Yes, we are physically distancing for all of our protection, but we are not socially distancing. We can find ways to make any encounters more compassionate, more intimate by being totally present.
- Compassionate Self-Care – Can we find ways to deepen our self-care? Can we tend to ourselves during this time when we often feel isolated and we can’t do all the things we have always done in our lives…we can’t hang out with friends, we can’t have people over for dinner, we can’t travel. OK, so what can we do? How can we deepen our self-care to give ourselves healthy ways to feel connected?
- True Meditation – Give ourselves time for deep rest – with no agenda – just rest. As always, I invite you to join me on weekday mornings for the Hut Practice… a time for deep rest and a story and question to help keep us focussed during the day on our well-being.
- Grounding – This is so important! When we are in that hyper-alert state of flight, fight or freeze, we are on the balls of our feet…ready to run if need be. So to counter that, we need both feet flat on the floor, on the ground…connecting us with the earth, solidifying our place on this earth. With our feet on the ground, we can enter wholeheartedness, so bring some awareness of your connection with the earth….every day.
- Senses – Allow your amazing senses, to connect you with your life, your surroundings, each other. Open your eyes to the sights around you, listen for inspiration in nature, in the sound of another’s voice. I know we are missing hugs, but find other ways to explore your sense of touch — try a bath instead of a shower and enjoy the feeling of water defining where your body ends and the water begins. Maybe we can find ways to really taste our food instead of just turning to it for comfort. Slow down to appreciate a single scoop of ice-cream, one glass of wine, one order of french fries…instead of over-indulging, because we’re looking for an escape. And by the way, no judgement on the occasional bust-out….it’s a really challenging time and we need to be kind to ourselves.
- Pause Power – Viktor Frankl gives us this wisdom – between the threat and the reaction, there is a small moment of time in which we can choose what direction we want to take. There is an enormous power in taking that pause, breathing and then responding from your higher self.
- Forgiveness- As always, lean in with fierce gentleness. I encourage us all to realize we are doing our best…in the midst of huge challenge. When we notice failings in ourselves or others, take that powerful pause and remember everyone is doing his or her best. We are in this together, so we need to support each other, because criticism just keeps us separate and what we really need now is connection.
Let’s take advantage of this wonderful Spring time —blossoming magnolias, crocuses pushing up from the earth. By calming our nervous systems, we can breath into a new beginning. Let’s resurrect ourselves!
Please reach out if you have any questions or need support through any of this. I am always here for you.