Updated: May 3, 2020
I've been noticing those days, especially the grey overcast ones, where irrespective of how much sleep I've had I still feel tired and unsettled. I have to remind myself that regardless of how ok life in my bubble feels, that underneath it all is a current of uncertainty, fear, concern, anxiety, stress. Words are being thrown around that rightfully trigger concern, Covid-19, pandemic, lockdown (sorry for adding to the chatter) The narrative counsellor in me could get creative, a messiness, doubt, a backdrop of unknowingness... naming it is useful, and it's a real part of March/April/May 2020.
Don't be hard on yourself, your nervous system is working overtime to do what it does best, protect you... Even if its best attempts at alertness, awareness and scanning can neither define, nor solve the problem. This autumn (or spring) has our brains are working overtime to look after us, trying beautifully, and consistently, and unfortunately not necessarily helping.
I'm sure it’s not just me that both wants to know how the frontlines are doing, and yet feels un-ease at each news report, even when it's good news. The reports are triggering, emotions felt through the reporters’ questions, even the structure of the briefs trigger a response before the news heads into the feel-good stories. Yet we return to them hoping for answers, looking for safety that still sits both in our bubble life, and guidance as to what the future might look like. Each trigger keeps our brain in alert mode, scanning, and at times brings that sense of not being able to think, not being able to plan, or maybe not being able to learn new things, even though well we have time to do so.
That's the reason for the calls to be kind to yourself, gentle on systems that are working hard to keep you safe, even if they aren't necessarily helpful. Not being tired means treating our bodies with respect, listening to them with appreciation of the job they are trying to do, and giving them options to rest, relax and yep play.
Our emotions and nervous system is an amazing network of split second information processing and not just information, but relationship, communication, the ability to comprehend and to experience happiness. This just happens to be one of its moments when there is nothing for it to do but remind you that it cares about you and wants to look after you... Sometimes its good to admit that what we feel is our bodies lovingly protecting us, giving them a pat on the back as it were, and saying thanks, but we're ok. We are safe, you can relax.
But there are also other things we can do to help it find rest. Those walks we are encouraged to do, the getting outside and letting ourselves relax in the sunshine, turning on the music and dancing or singing, breathing, long slow breathes until we feel our bodies relax, taking not of our surroundings, even the growing fascination with crafts, knitting, breadmaking, weeding the garden that give space to sit in the present moment and enjoy something safe something familiar. Add in the people we care about, those in our bubble or those in our online communities and we further build resilience. Even the people we say hi to as we respectfully pass them on the street, an awkward 2 meters, allow connection, and reflection that Yes, we are ok. A smile does a lot, to confirm all is good and bring rest to our nervous systems.