Hey guys! Amber, here.
I wonder where this letter finds you today… At home in your cozies, trying to keep some semblance of normalcy for your family? Still at work trying to proceed with business amid the eery ghost-town feeling of empty spaces all around?
Listen, nothing is normal right now. Let’s start with that.
The whole world feels upside down and unknown and a little bit scary these days.
I had a whole laundry list of things I was excited to write to you about and topics to explore together, and we will. We’ll get to those. But right now it just doesn’t feel appropriate.
So instead I thought we could do a check-in.
How are you doing right now? Like, REALLY?
Whatever state you’re in, whatever feelings you’re experiencing, whether it’s fear, confusion, lethargy, anxiety, anger, creative inspiration, tenderness, love, concern, overwhelm, numbness…. IT ALL MAKES SENSE.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve needed that reminder almost daily this month.
My generally low-grade anxiety has ratcheted up to a level I’ve never experienced before and I’d be lying if I said I was operating at my normal capacity this week. Normally I can manage my anxiety quite well with exercise, journaling, alone time, getting good sleep, and a laundry list of other basic grown up behaviors.
Enter COVID19, no schedule, no alone time to process, interrupted sleep (because that 2AM anxiety-alarm is a beast), kids at home who now need to be home schooled, a husband who’s home working in my office (all the praise hands for a job he can do remotely), and a healthy dose of overwhelm… and well, it’s been interesting.
At moments, my body is literally buzzing with tension. My hands will shake, my jaw clenches randomly, and I’ll catch myself holding my breath for no reason. This is all new territory for me and I find that my first instinct is to be harsh with myself. Frustrated. Impatient to feel “normal” and ” be productive” again.
But that’s not really helpful.
Because the truth is, nothing is normal right now.
I don’t have a neatly packaged anecdote for you except to say that one thing that’s helping me right now is taking on a posture of curiosity rather than judgement.
With myself and the anxiety that’s taken up residence in my body.
With my kids as they melt down, surprise me with their resilience, or seem oblivious, depending on the hour.
With my creativity, as it lights up at exactly the wrong time and then fades to the periphery as soon as I have a moment to give it proper attention.
With my husband as he navigates work-from-home life and the pressures of managing other people’s money in an unpredictable stock market.
With strangers in the grocery store when they behave so rudely it’s jarring.
With the internet when it seems too loud.
With all of it.
I find that this inner posture of curiosity, of listening and NOTICING is helpful because it automatically separates me from the feelings I’m having. It’s like, “Oh, there you are exhaustion. I see you. I understand why you’re here.” Or, “Okay, Anxiety, I hear you shouting for my attention, so what does my body need right now?”
In practicing this, it reminds me that whatever tumultuous feelings might be washing over me, they may be a close companion during this season, but they are not WHO I am.
That might sound woo-woo, but it’s honestly been so helpful for me! Maybe it will help you too.
Some other things that have been helping:
- Getting outside for at least 20 minutes a day, even if it’s a walk in the freezing cold
- Snuggling my dogs
- Staying mostly offline
- Daily meditations (I love the headspace app and they even have a special new series for what’s happening in the world right now!)
- Journaling. This one is huge. I started this practice in Jan and it has been a game changer. I just free write for 20 min every day with no agenda, no judgement, no formula, just stream of consciousness brain dumping. Anything that’s on my mind or heart spills out onto the page. This has unlocked something for both my well being and my writing life. When you publish things on the internet, it’s good to remember I can keep some things private.
- Less alcohol. This one’s a bummer because there’s not much I love more than a glass or two of red wine at night. But I find that when I have it frequently, my anxiety spikes.
- Giving myself and my family grace. We are all brittle and on edge. Some days we do a great job of making each other laugh, connecting, and getting quality time. Other days we are fussy and snappy. This plays out differently for all of our personality types, so we are doing our best as parents and spouses to offer grace when possible.
- Exercise. This is crucial for me as well. It helps me burn off extra stress and energy and helps keep my mood balanced- and that pocket of alone time is a GIFT.
- Do something with my hands. When my mind wont stop spiraling, I find it helpful to do something viscerally distracting. I’ll turn on some music and cook. Work on a puzzle. Clean the house. Take a bath. There’s something about getting out of my head and into my body that is quite calming.
- Pray. Even if it’s just a breath, thrown up as a plea. Even if it’s random thoughts scribbled out onto my journal. Even if I don’t know what to pray. Pivoting my attention to my creator reminds me that even when the world feels big and scary, I am held and I am known.
I’d love to know what’s getting you through this time! Leave a comment and let’s connect! We’re all in this together.