Hitting the Wall
It’s coming up on one year of COVID restrictions, it’s the peak of Winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is in full swing, and we are all hitting the WALL - and not the Pink Floyd kind. It feels like everyone is talking about it, but I still feel the need to write a quick blog on the topic because your feelings right now are VALID and REAL. The more you hear that, the more you will believe it.
Every human that entered our space this week, physically or virtually, was having a hard time, and the pain of this year was written across their face. As my intern and I listened to our 11-year-old client lament on the stress they are feeling yesterday, our hearts got a little heavier and I realized we just have to admit that this SUCKS. Yep, I said it – sucks.
If you know me, you know I am an authentically positive person and I don’t say that phrase a lot (at work anyway). I very much feel stress, I am an ENTJ overachiever, but I try to bring the joy every day. I know my clients need that vibrant energy and I love to feed off the mutual positivity. But lately there is nothing mutual about it, everyone is exhausted. AND THAT IS REALITY.
While there have been great moments of change and prosperity this past year, the reality is that this pandemic is exhausting. We are constantly adapting, changing, demonstrating cognitive flexibility, and it’s HARD. We were prepared for none of this and are constantly having to pull from an empty bag of coping skills to survive.
And I’m sure you’re thinking “Okay Alyssa, you know my pain, but what can I do?” My short answer is… STOP. I don’t mean stop taking precautions or stop the existential dread, because that is nearly impossible. I mean:
Stop (and Think)
This is one of the greatest tools in our humanity toolbox. When you are in crisis, which we all are in some way during this pandemic, before you do or say, stop and think. This has implications for the type of social impression you leave, the way you manage turmoil, creating effective rapport with your clients or students, and so much more. When all you feel is exhaustion or big feelings, stop. The think part is a reference to one of our songs – stop and think – that we use a ton in sessions!
Take a Breath
Deep breathing is a classic coping tool. Its biggest flaw? How the heck do you get strong deep breaths when you’re in the middle of crisis?! If you are in a place where you can, take a minute to breathe. Square breathing or figure 8 breathing are classics to use here for yourself or your kids! If you don’t have the capacity to make deep breathing effective, just take some space. A break or space looks different for everyone. This can be a mental moment of retreat or phsycial time and space away from the situation. If you have time and a safe location to retreat to, DO IT.
I know this is not a true O, but you HAVE to honor those emotions you are feeling. We spend so much time being strong and being resilient that we neglect our mental health. While you have space or time, honor what you are feeling. Validate that it’s okay. Start that inner dialogue and remind yourself that this… here it comes again… SUCKS! It’s okay to feel those emotions around this. You can still juggle life, you can still pull through, but honor the reality of your situation so you can prepare.
A failure to plan is planning to fail. Hence why this whole year feels like a great big F on our report cards. There was no plan for this. This is the true unexpected. However, we know the situation we are in. Does anybody have a map? No. But, when you honor and validate reality, you can start to set plans for the future in motion. When you have the space and can effectively regulate, plan on how to help yourself next time.
This could be a playlist for when you need to sing out all those big feelings. It could be talking with your partner about structured alone time where you don’t have responsibility of work, kids, managing the home, etc. This could be planning 5 minutes for yourself every day to sit in the bath tub, eat goldfish, and cry. Start to prepare coping tools so you don’t have to manage everything in the moment with no map.
Preparation can be the hardest part of all this, and this is where we can help! In the height of COVID, we released our Coping Tools Workbook. There are strategies here for you as a clinician, parent, or educator to support your emotional wellbeing. It is also an excellent resource to support the tweens, teens, and young adults in your life who are feeling those BIG emotions right now!
A tangible preparation you can make for some self-care and a set coping tool is our Caring for Caregivers restorative yoga class. This class runs on Mondays from 7-8pm CT on Zoom. It is a virtual group full of clinicians, parents, and other caring professionals to make time and space for themselves. The group is all about relaxing, making space for yourself, and refilling your cup. We have drop in rates as well as class packages starting at $60 for 5 classes.
If this sounds like something you desperately need right now, email me - firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free trial class to see if it’s for you!
At the end of the day, we are in this for the long haul. It’s 2021 and COVID-19 is alive and well. There is a small glimmer of hope at the end of this tunnel, but taking the time to focus on your mental health and wellbeing is vital. We have a long marathon to run and we need the fuel to do it! Fill yourself up today however you can, and let us help you.
If we can be of any support, do not hesitate to contact us!