Here’s a text exchange that I had with one of my clients last night:
Client: Could you tell me that it is okay to go to bed before 8pm as an adult?
Me: You have my blessing. It’s definitely okay, and necessary when your body is going through what yours is. Rest well!
Client: Thanks. :-) I somehow feel guilty for not poring over every piece of news (political or otherwise) given the state of world affairs...but I just can’t.
I have been having this conversation A LOT lately. And I love that this client reached out to me because she is not the only one feeling guilty for wanting to pull away from the news. But in terms of supporting her own healing, her instinct was right on.
Stress makes us sick and “stressed” doesn’t even cut it when describing how most people are feeling right now. This is a time of huge transition for all of America, our president has done some really painful stuff, and there’s more to come. Everyone’s nervous system is totally f-ed. A lot of people have been feeling a stress response triggered by the news on a daily basis since before the election. That’s bad for everyone’s health but it’s especially bad for us spoonies because we managing our own stress in the context of community, national, and global stress.
How the hell are we going to survive this mess?
Here is my three part prescription for staying well and continuing to heal in the face of this epic stress pandemic:
Have a daily mindfulness practice and stick to it. Nine out of ten people who come to me for coaching say they want to be more present. Practicing mindfulness is how you get present. You can practice meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, walking in meditation, whatever you like. Let it be something you can do daily, ideally at the same time everyday. It doesn’t have to be long or special or done in a certain way or according to a certain tradition. It could literally be as simple as staring at the wall for five minutes after you get up and repeating the mantra “I am experiencing good health.” I was really sick when I began meditating and I did started doing 10 minutes a day, in bed, right after I got up. It was a huge game changer and brought my anxiety to almost zero in just a couple months. Regular practice really takes the edge off. It may feel challenging to get started, but I believe in you! Do something, notice what you feel in your body, and express gratitude for that feeling, whatever it is. Insight Timer is an awesome tool for keeping track of your mindfulness practice because it gives you stats on how much you are meditating. It also has hundreds of guided meditations, music, and soundscapes. You can also find your friends on the app, check out their stats and see how they are doing in their practice. This is really awesome if you want to set up an accountability buddy system. If sitting down to meditate feels challenging but yoga feels like too much, check out Yin Yoga.
Put yourself on a news diet. Specifically, limit what news you consume to particular mediums at particular times. I know, I know. You don’t want to be ignorant and consuming news is an important part of your routine. I get it. Truly. I started watching the evening news with my dad when I was two. I felt like Peter Jennings was my second father and I wept when he passed away. Nearly all my heroes are journalists. But, consuming headlines all day makes it nearly impossible to be fully present in your life because it triggers significant emotional and stress responses. Professional journalists and people who work in the media develop ways of being with the news that work for them so that they can stay on top of all the news. For the rest of us, it’s just not healthy. And if you’re on a healing journey, or in recovery, you cannot afford to go on a superfluous emotional rollercoaster everyday. That’s right, I said it was superfluous. You are not inhumane if you don’t expend energy every single day feeling sad or angry about the state of your fellow humans. Humans are messy. There will always be things to be sad or angry about. You need that energy. And you really need that energy if you are going to go take action to make the world less messy. There is nothing to feel guilty about so create some boundaries for yourself. It might mean turning off notifications on your phone or limiting your Facebook or television time. I encourage you to experiment and see what works for you.
Drink a lot of tea. Black tea contains L-theanine which can create a calming sensation and there are a lot of great herbal teas that work like anxiety busters and do wonders in calming the nervous system. And just the act of preparing and drinking tea can make you calmer.
No one says it better than my boy Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Tea is an act complete in its simplicity.
When I drink tea, there is only me and the tea.
The rest of the world dissolves.
There are no worries about the future.
No dwelling on past mistakes.
Tea is simple: loose-leaf tea, hot pure water, a cup.
I inhale the scent, tiny delicate pieces of the tea floating above the cup. I drink the tea, the essence of the leaves becoming a part of me.
I am informed by the tea, changed.
This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed: all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose.
There is only the tea, and me, converging.”
What are you doing to take good care of yourself in these trying times? Share in the comments below.