replenish yourself (pandemic or not)
Updated: Jan 20
It's an understatement to say this virus has been with us way too long. A virus that's wallpapered itself onto the walls of our homes and workplaces (for many the same thing), it's fondled our hearts, and casually walks with us when we enter out into the world.
It holds us by a leash. A retractable one that chokes us when we get excited and pull ahead too hard.
Yet in spite of this, our human resourcefulness has managed to find ways to engage with the world ~ like the puppy chasing its tail round and round. We've adapted and realized, this is a marathon. Where the damn finish line keeps moving.
This is a marathon... where the finish line keeps moving.
Although we have the capacity to adapt, we don't have to ignore how hard its been, and still is. There's a continual rocking motion. One step forward two steps back. Pivoting, hybriding (I know, not a word), cheerleading our pom poms off if you're a leader of people or at all positive minded, digging in and doin' the work needed to be done.
However, over the last 2 years we've all been playing at something without really knowing it.
The stops, starts, disruptions, shifts in ways of being, ways of doing, ways of reacting have given us an orchestra of skills.
Every day in this health event you, me, and the cutie sitting on your couch have been learning a new instrument.
We are examples of what resiliency looks like.
As you wake up (those blessed to do so) to around 700+ days of, "Everything You Need To Know About Coronavirus In The World", it’s no doubt you might be tired, or digging deeper into routines and systems that work well for you.
We're all wanting to move on. Wave a sparkly wand that'll zap a little groovy magic into the air. Find something that'll help cut through the fatigue we're feeling.
When I was little I loved Bewitched. Sooooo many times I've wiggled my nose like Samantha to try to make something happen (like the laundry usually). It still doesn't work. Right now it's hard to abra-ca-dabra your way forward though. But there are a few things that we can do that'll help replenish and fill our cup right now. And hey, if you want to wiggle your nose a few times I think it's worth a shot.
Ways to fill up the cup
#1 Small Victories
In my own circles I hear:
“The blessings that have come from COVID have been...”
“If there’s 1 good thing that’s come from COVID, it’s this…”
“COVID has allowed me to …”
Gratitude (sigh, you knew it had to be said somewhere, right?) This super power, when we actually practice it has the real potential (YES IT REALLY DOES) to increase our overall happiness. The science behind it is simple: setting ourselves up to look for the small victories in life re-wires how we see our life.
The type of gratitude matters too. The diamond you want: consider gratitude for who-you-have and gratitude for how-things-happen, not gratitude for what you have.
Write 3 things daily that you’re grateful for 3 weeks, or, as you lay your sleepy head on your pillow ask yourself, “what went well today?” Then do it tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and then the day after that. Keep going and that little magic you were looking for might just have been there all along.
#2 Make Small Connections
We usually think only big connections with others count. But even the slightest casual positive interaction connecting you with another boosts your sense of well being. It reminds your brain that the world is a safe place.
These positive, short term interactions are called moments of high quality connections.
Smile as you pass someone on the street or in the hall.
Make eye contact and say hi to the person at the till in the grocery store.
Have a short conversation with the person beside you on the bus, train, or plane (as this all begins again hopefully soon).
Compliment the Starbucks barista for her amazing upsell (which I did btw because it was so smooth and I felt like she totally had my best interest in mind when she asked if I'd like a piece of carrot cake with my Grande Americano, even though I still said no thank you)
Polite and friendly social interaction takes us out of our own head, allows us to engage with the living, and reminds us that the world isn't all bad. In fact, there's a lot of good.
#3 Dance after escaping the lion
Over these many months we’ve all had a lot of new stressors in our lives. A stressor is an external something that has the potential to create a physiological and neurological response in your body. This response is called a stress response. When your body becomes mentally and physically ready for fight (take on the lion), flight (run from the lion), or freeze (stand still and be eaten by the lion).
To put it in context. We've been hit heavy and hard with uncontrollable events over the last 19 months. We've responded to every single one by dealing with it in some way. "Dealing with it", takes mental and physical energy in ways that we're not always aware.
For me, I've been feeling as if my skin is a little thinner. I'm quick to cry. I get frustrated easier with people. I'm a little sad, cuz' I can't make plans. Some days I'm just really tired, and tired of working so hard at not being tired.
We've been chronically running from the lion for so long, we're exhausted.
The bottom line, if you're not replenishing the physiological and neurological energy your body takes to handle a stressor, eventually your resourcefulness diminishes.
Emily and Amelia Nagoski, sister authors of, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle say that "in this upside-down world we live in stress itself will kill you faster than a stressor will unless you do something to complete the stress response cycle."
Stressful events aren't always bad for us. They can make things happen, quickly. However, the way you react to stressors, especially chronic stressors that continue for an extended period of time, can cause serious health issues.
So even though the pandemic lion continues to pace around us, you have the ability to let your body know you're safe. Let your body know it's okay to stop running. Here's some practical ways to close your stress response cycle:
Breathing - deep
Positive social interaction - see above
Affection -hug it out!
Cry - a good ol' tear jerk movie maybe?
Creative expression - any way you want to baby!!
Exercise - the quickest and most efficient way btw
How do you know if any of that works? Your body will tell you. It'll be like a shift in gears. Listen to it.
#4 Post it note reminder
You. Are. Super. Resilient.
Believe it or not our beautifully complex human bodies and minds are made this way. The crazy thing is, we constantly forget how super resilient we really are. Heads up, that’s also how we’re made.
Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness tells us that our brain naturally is always trying to overcome. Humans adapt, to both bad things ~ wait for it ~ but also to good things. And both, the good and the bad, don't actually affect us quite as much as we expect them to.
So remember, we can do hard things.
We do, do hard things. All. The. Time.
None of this comes easily though. It takes some effort and personal responsibility on our end to care for our own well being. Because our happiness, our flourishing, our well-being is in our own hands, not someone else's.
Love & Blessings