I have hit my wall and I hear it in my clients voices too. Their default coping mechanisms of push, push, push are fading. They can’t keep up this pace.
We are all DONE. Done with COVID, done with being trapped at home with family, done with social distancing and masks, done with politics and all the division and done worrying about money and the economy.
What do you do when you are DONE and yet there is no end in sight? How do you keep going when all your normal coping skills aren’t working?
So today’s message is as much for me as you.
Slow down. This is a non-negotiable these days. I know it is the last thing you want to do. Slowing down is something I have to force myself to do. We have to find ways to slow down, be alone, connect with our Biggest Fan. I know with kids and work and general life responsibilities this seems impossible, we won’t survive if we don’t prioritize this one. Even for a few minutes.
Here are some of my favorite ways.
You don’t have to do these practices for 20-30 minutes to get the benefits. It is easier for me to do a few of these throughout the day for short periods rather than one for 20-30 minutes (think in seconds, not minutes). Frequently I will set a timer on my phone to remind myself to take a break and slow down.
You can experiment with what works best for you.
Write/Journal: Studies have shown that just writing without editing what you are thinking and feeling moves the stress out of our body.
Take a walk: The Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh talks about walking meditation (even wrote a book about it), which is simply slowly walking and coordinating your breath with your steps. You can walk on the street, on a labyrinth, or in your living room.
Laugh: Watch a silly Youtube video, call a friend who makes you laugh, do something silly.
Eat: With each bite of food, you take remind yourself to slow down and pay attention. Slowly chew, slowly swallow, slowly taste. What flavors do you taste? How does the food feel in your mouth?
Look in the mirror. Any time you are in the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror. Really look at yourself. I will look in my eyes and say silently to myself, “Hello there, Sweet Pea, how is your day going?” When I started doing this, I would inevitably tear up because I was longing for that connection with myself that ability to really SEE me and not just live solely in my head.
5 senses: Wherever you are take a breath and do an inventory of your 5 senses. In the moment, what do you see? What do you feel? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you smell? This meditation brings you immediately in the present moment. I practice this in the car, in the store, and in my office.
Move your Body: Have a dance party in your office or kitchen or go for a walk. Get out of your head and into your body.
Use your Breath: One of my favorites is simple 3 deep breaths. You can also do inhale to a 4 count, hold for 7 and exhale to a count of 8 and repeat 4 times.
We tell ourselves we don’t have time for these activities, we have to keep our heads down and to-do list checked off. I hear you and I get it (Oh do I get it!!). If we are going to survive in the coming months without hurting one of our kids, punching our husband or screaming at a co-worker over zoom we have to engage in these activities. We have to slow down and give ourselves a break.