As I continue my healing journey, one thing I am constantly reminded of is to “self-care.” I’m sure others are probably tiring of me reminding them to do the same.
Self-care may sound a little “woo-woo,” but it really is not. It’s not all about massages or mani-pedis, though they can be incorporated, too. In times of trauma recovery, self-care is a reminder to be gentle with yourself in all situations, and to not only learn your limits, but to honor them, too.
Self-care is also learning to live with intention. #self-care #crisis #COVID19 Click To Tweet
Self-care is also learning to live with intention.
Globally, we are facing a shift in our lives that is frightening to some, and terrifying to others. It feels like our lives have been flipped upside down and turned inside out. And, that isn’t far from the truth.
The world as we once knew it has changed, and nothing will ever be the same again. And, that can be both good and bad.
As I wrote in a previous post, “… the more healing work I do, the more I realize that although grief produces trauma, trauma also produces grief.” This article, written by Scott Berinato, explains what many are feeling during this crisis.
This pandemic is producing trauma, and that trauma is going to produce grief. We have limitations on where to go, what to do, and a whole new appreciation of how quickly a virus can spread, and how fragile life really is.
Grief produces trauma, and trauma produces grief. And what is grief? I believe it is the death of hope. The death of dreams.
Unfortunately, we are going to grieve the loss of people. But we are also going to grieve our way of life. Just the other day, while shopping, I saw a side of people I never want to see again – hoarding. The “normal” life we knew is gone – that fast. In addition to the health ramifications, there will be economic and psychological ramifications, too. We are going to grieve a lot of changes.
And, I am also going to point out something that may not be obvious to society at large, unless they have gone through trauma recovery and learned this definition: People are being “emotionally triggered” by this pandemic.
I am experiencing that triggering first hand. It is a very uncomfortable and unsettling place to be.
When I see people acting selfish, such as hoarding items or blatantly disregarding social distancing rules, I get very upset. I feel angry, and sad and powerless. Why? Because I – like others who have been abused/traumatized in either childhood or adulthood – know too well that someone’s selfish actions and behaviors hurt innocent people. In really simple terms, we “feel” in our bodies where the trauma was stored, so our unconscious reaction to the trigger is that it takes us back to the original abuse/trauma. And most often, we aren’t even aware this is happening.
That’s why trauma recovery work is so important to pretty much everyone. Maybe it wasn’t abuse that you suffered. Maybe it was a car accident or being stuck in an elevator that traumatized you and made you feel trapped. So, being trapped at home would trigger you back to feeling powerless at the time of the trauma.
So, what’s the remedy? Self-care. Yeah, the “woo-woo” stuff.
But it’s really not woo-woo, it is living with intention. Living in the moment. Feeling what you feel, acknowledging it and learning how to process it, which makes it less frightening. And, self-care is also doing things to make you feel better. In some ways, it’s like re-framing your thoughts.
Here’s an example. While changing the bedding the other day, I didn’t look at it as a chore as I had viewed it in the past. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to sleep better that evening, knowing the fresh linens, open windows and drops of lavender would make for a more restful environment. I had the power, in the midst of the crisis, to find a way to try and rest a bit better that evening. That is self-care.
There are so many ways to self-care, that I decided to write a series during this time of crisis to share what I have learned with others. As simple as self-care sounds, sometimes it isn’t, especially if you are having a difficult time with feeling overwhelmed – which, ironically, is the time you should self-care!
Living with intention is both extremely difficult and important in trauma recovery – and during a pandemic – especially if you are used to taking care of others. Remember, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others. And really, at the core, that is what self-care is all about. Taking care of yourself so that you can care for others. Because you are worth taking care of yourself!
So, before the series starts, I will share a few self-care tips that I keep in my “emergency tool kit” for when I’m feeling super anxious, and maybe these will help you, too:
- Breathing: I breathe in deeply to the count of three – hold it two – exhale counting to five or six.
- Five-four-three-two-one: I see five objects; I feel four objects; I hear three sounds; I smell two items; I taste one item.
- Get outdoors: I take a quick walk, or open the window and breathe. There’s something about fresh air and walking in nature that really grounds me.
- Turn it off: I haven’t watched the news in years, unless I’ve been stuck somewhere and it’s on. Also, I reduce the social media exposure.
- Reach out: If need be, I will text or call someone.
- Pray/Meditate: I read and mediate with some of my favorite Scriptures.
- Journal: I write out how I feel – both the good and the bad, adding what I am grateful for, too.
- Daily Challenge: Every day, I challenge myself to try something new. It may be looking up a word I had never heard, or researching the origin of a phrase, or trying a new art technique, or trying a new recipe or tweaking a favorite one, or walking an extra block, etc.
I was asked this question the other day: Can you control anything about this pandemic situation? I declared, in no uncertain terms, “NO!” And wow – did I feel my anxiety skyrocket, making me feel helpless, powerless, spinning. I can’t control hoarding or rule breakers or anything about this.
Then I was asked, “Is that really true?” And when I thought a bit further, I saw that I am not completely powerless. I have tools to calm myself, I can follow safe practices and self-care. I have daily challenges to distract me. So, I am not completely powerless, am I?
That is the power of self-care. And so, my next post is going to deep-dive into the Daily Challenge because, for me, that is where I am finding a truly therapeutic way to bring my anxiety and worries down. I will be interviewing a special guest that has helped me on my journey, and I hope you will continue to follow as we all navigate these uncharted waters together.
Much love xoxo
© Lynne Cobb – 2020
Do you have any self-care tips you’d like to share? Please share in the comment section below. If you have a unique way to self-care, and would like to be considered for an interview, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this contact form.