Anxiety is part of living, but the greatest wisdom in life is to understand that we are the only ones who can overcome our fears and lessen our burdens.
It’s an understatement to say we’re in uncertain times and this isn’t your typical storm. In a storm, we understand that there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end, which gives us a sense of peace in knowing that it shall pass… whatever the outcome might be. But that’s not what we’ve all experienced this past year.
The word ‘acceptance’ is top of mind for me these days. I’m grappling with accepting that many elements of my life are beyond my control and that I cannot change what is around us but only how I react to them.
This new norm has heightened our collective anxiety levels and compounded those by living in a perpetual state of limbo. (By limbo, I sadly don’t mean the dance where we shimmy under a broomstick at a wedding. I wish!) Alas, we are all in a constant state of oblivion, of uncertainty, of intermediacy. On top of that, we’re also in various states of confinement. So yes, we could all use a bloody huge wrap-your-arms-around-yourself hug.
One of the things I believe and we try to share on Mothers and Daughters Unfiltered is the idea of looking at things with a fresh perspective, through an alternative lens. Where are the silver linings in the dark shadows?
We can think of limbo as the "in between time" where we accept and open up to the uncertainty and tap into the simple joys. A good book, a walk in the park, a cup of tea and cookie with a friend over Zoom. For me, it’s being the first to rise and smelling the first cup of coffee in silence with my puppy by my side; sharing a conversation over a family meal; playing a game of cards. One of the reasons we so love our dogs and babies is because they really don’t care or even know about Covid or politics,—they’re just happy to see you, be with you. They are examples of being truly present and being comfortable with simple joys, leaving the busyness behind.
You're needed; so just be there. A message for the moms: Whether our kids are 7, 27, or 37 we are more often than not, still their source of comfort, reassurance, advice, and refuge. Instead of thinking ‘Oh My God’ everyone wants a piece of you, think of it as real validation and empowerment. Isn’t it fulfilling to know that for all the ‘OH MUM!’s’ you get along with eye rolls and sulks, that when it comes down to it, you are that trusted soul. Your love and warmth is truly invaluable and cherished. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers, you just have to be there. (Bonus: you’ll get a good hug out of it most of the time.)
Exhaustion is taking grip on all of us. How do we lessen the anxiety without popping pills or vodka shots? How can we support our loved ones while nourishing our own souls?
Here are a few tips on lightening your load physically, mentally, and emotionally as they are all interrelated.
#1 Switch Off the News, Not Your Senses
Trust your senses and use this time to reconnect with them in ways you’ve lost touch with. Smell the flowers, literally, that in of itself, is a breath of fresh air and can eliminate a layer of stress. Take the time to stop, taste, and savor the food you or someone else has worked hard to prepare; you’re not a golden retriever, and taking the time to enjoy your food bite-by-bite will fill you up in more ways that you imagine. Ultimately, change your relationship with the news. TAKE CHARGE. So much of it is opinion-driven. Before being swayed one way or the other take a moment to consider -- what’s your opinion? Maybe read an article in the local paper, listen to a podcast by a person of color or explore a news outlet you don’t usually consume instead. The point is switch it up, but limit it nonetheless.
#2 Honesty Really is the Best Policy.
Admit it, COVID-19, our divided and tribalist culture Sucks… yes, with a capital S. Denial with ourselves and our kids will only heighten the stress levels, so let go of trying to rationalize what’s happening. Uphold your values and find a sense of humor in the madness, it’ll lighten your mood and give you a sense of control. Talking of comedy, why not dig up a good old 1990s / early 2000s rom-com, and be silly. Be silly with your kids, your friends and loved ones! Play games; cards, charades, whatever makes you feel good. Warning, don’t add monopoly to this list -- I had to ban it in our household!
#3 Grief Often Comes Hand-in-Hand with Honesty.
We all have a right to our feelings; that includes those in times of loss and change. To ignore them is to ignore our whole being. So acknowledge them, talk about them so you can move through the feelings and find creative ways to welcome or at least handle change. And don’t shy away from involving your kids (I bet they’ll have better ideas too) help them feel part of the solution so they can take some ownership and feel an element of control in their own lives. Send a poem, have a dance off, cook your favorite holiday dish over video chat together.
#4 Find the Space to Breathe Within the Madness.
Listen to me -- it’s okay to give yourself a break! Even superwoman would be heading to Mars right now to take five. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but take a second to focus on your breath, it really works. Here’s an exercise that helps me. Shut your eyes, next breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds and then breathe out for 4 seconds and repeat for a total of four times. I promise you’ll experience a new kind of calm. It’s your own mini stabilizing meditation to tune into yourself and calm the nerves. Want to take it a step further? See if you can simply sit in that quiet space for another 5 or 10 minutes; we don’t do enough of “nothing” these days.
#5 Exhaustion is Real; Rest Your Beautiful Soul.
An early night is more than okay, it’s vital. As we head into winter, reframe it as being intune with your natural biorhythms, a time to go within. Animals hibernate, we don’t need to go that far, but sleep is a natural healer. And what’s more soothing than snuggling up with a good book and cup of tea at the end of the day, or afternoon, or morning for that moment. Pay attention to those sweet simple moments for what they are…simple. Moments that sustain us. All a part of your wellness and beauty regime!
#6 Stay Socially Connected.
Stay close to those who bring you joy, to those you can share your honest feelings with, those who know and accept you fully… yes, puppies and babies can count here too! But make sure to also tap into your friends; we need each other.
#7 Take a Break.
Pace yourself and welcome breaks. If you’re working from home, logging on and being productive is more accessible than ever before. Don’t do it until you have to. Wait to turn on the device. Log off when the work day is over. Give yourself a break. Treat yourself kindly, just as you would treat someone you love. Yoga, walks, chats with friends, reading, cooking and dancing -- all the things I’ve mentioned previously, are what you need right now. Just do it.
Ultimately – don’t let negativity overtake you! Good news is that a vaccine is on the way and this too shall pass. Take a look at history; the human race has survived much worse -- without Netflix or Amazon!
Enjoy this precious time, because before we know it we’ll be back to busy; or maybe we won’t, the choice is yours.