Here’s the thing … I’ve started writing this piece three million times to no avail. I kicked myself. I meditated. I ate chocolate. I watched the news and checked the social. I cursed myself. I hugged myself. I invoked self-compassion (my word for the year). Aaaaannnnnd, nothing.
This year began with hope: new clients and new experiences, more kindness, COVID vaccine, and an end to the “uncivil war.” Then there was the Capital insurrection inflamed by government “leaders,” more people died of COVID, the vaccine was slow to release, fear of more riots. Turns out, the launch of 2021 was all of 2020 PLUS an insurgency, a run-off election and an impeachment. Don’t even get me started on the utterly blatant, inequivalent police response to white mob violence versus Black Lives Matter peaceful protests. I have been overwhelmed with rage, disbelief, disgust, fear, sadness, grief, confusion, and hopelessness. My head is full of images. My heart is full of pain, my own and so many fellow Americans.
Looking for a remedy to this suffering, I realized so much of this story is out of my control. So, I chose to honor the pain and focus what I could control. Here are a few things that helped.
#1 Pause and Allow
It’s real. What I feel, what you feel, it is real. Tara Brach, Ph.D, psychologist, author and teacher of meditation, teaches a process called RAIN. Recognize what’s happening, what you’re feeling, and where you’re feeling it in the body. What’s the texture? Can you name it? Then, allow it to be. No judgment, not trying to paint over it. Just be with it. Next, investigate what’s there with care and compassion. What might it need? What is it (that feeling) asking for? Finally, nurture that awareness with self-compassion/self-kindness. The practice of RAIN has offered me a little more space to breathe.
#2 Adjust Your Own Mask Before Others
You know the airplane safety talk, “Adjust your own mask before assisting others.” Take care of yourself. What do you need right now? Maybe it’s a warm bath or a nap. Perhaps it’s chocolate or your favorite coffee drink. More sleep? Walking or yoga? The Harvard Healthbeat states “Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.” It’s not a bad idea to use exercise to provide some natural relief to the overwhelm of emotions.
Conversely, limit unhealthy coping strategies like the overuse of alcohol and drugs. Excessive use can exacerbate depression, anxiety, and poor sleep.
And speak kindly to yourself. Talk to yourself like you would a dear friend, or at least someone you like. Watch your self-talk. One of my teachers always says, you are as you think. Think self-kindness.
#3 Call in Reinforcements
Get a little help from a trusted friend, spiritual advisor, partner, mental health provider or colleague. Someone who will hug you while you’re crying, sit and listen to your feelings and maybe feel them right along with you. Find a person you can process with and who can sit in the hard stuff with you. Talk it out.
If you’re more incline to mediation, sit quietly and call to mind someone who inspires you. Call in the ancestors and visionaries. Leaders and healers. Living and lived. Ask them to sit with you. Call in your wise beings. Call in those who have experienced resistance. Ask them to sit. As you do so, notice you are no longer alone. In this moment, you are surrounded by your team of inspiration. Allow them to hold you, to feel what you feel in this moment. Know you are not alone.
When we connect with our greater community, we are able to appreciate connection with the world. Perhaps we soften and can find breathing room.
#4 Stop the sh#! show
Turn it off! Unplug for 30 minutes, two hours or even a day. Limit your exposure to the news, the social, the muck. Take a break. Give your head, your eyes, and your heart a break from the crazy, the suffering and the pain.
#5 Get enough sleep
Sleep is the magic elixir. Give your mind, your heart, and your body a break. Be intentional about your sleep hygiene and schedule. This might include going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Taking a bath/shower to wash off the emotions of the day. Doing light yoga before bed or listening to a meditation as you fall asleep. Go to Insight Timer if you’re looking for free meditations.
And if that isn’t enough, you can always read the remarkable poem by Youth Poet Laurette Amanda Gorman.
Looking for a coach? Let’s chat. About Linley Daly Coach. Consultant. Catalyst
About Linley Daly
With thirty-years in the corporate and social sectors, Linley is a seasoned leader in philanthropy, a transformative coach, and an entrepreneur deeply committed to partnering with leaders to help their organizations grow. As a Coach-Consultant, she blends her unique expertise in strategy, customized professional development (workshops/trainings), thought leadership and organizational framework design to support nonprofit leaders and their boards of directors fulfill their agency’s mission.
ICF ACC, BoardSource Certified Governance Consultant, certified Global Team Coach.