We are months into the new COVID pre-vaccine "normal" now.
I certainly still have loads of resistance to this "new normal" and I've noticed the ways that I've tried to manage the stress and uncertainty of these strange times. I've had my share of healthy ("good") management and escapism ("bad") management these past months. Yet "good" and "bad" aren't terrific labels or terms for the patterns we develop to navigate times of heightened stressors.
Escapism management occurs when we convince ourselves that our nervous system can't handle feeling the discomfort of the stressor . . .so we find ways to escape. (You know the sort I'm talking about--food, booze, excessive exercise, online shopping, social media scrolling--pick yours out.) Escapism management might be using familiar patterns of behavior that have actually helped see us through in hard times past. Our body/mind can turn to these patterns like old friends. Yet escapism management doesn't tend to be sustainable. Shocker.
Healthy management works much better in the long run .
One thing I've noticed is that having a bedrock--a small set of self-care "must-dos"--is helpful to me. For me it's three bottom-line daily care practices. My three pledges to myself, if you will. If I carry them out faithfully, I feel steadier in body and mind--particularly in these fluid times.
If I don't carry them out faithfully, then I start to feel, well . . .yucky.
My pledges involve the basics of breath & movement, sustenance, and stillness. A good balance of body, mind, spirit. Those pledges may need to be adjusted and morph eventually into different pledges. But for now I've had that "down-to-Earth", "let's-get-real", "come-to-Jesus" type conversation with myself to identify and acknowledge these essentials as Truth. Carrying them out means the train is less likely to veer off track or skip a station altogether.
So they are important. Cause I dislike feeling yucky.
Where do we get the motivation to meet our pledges head-on?
Just two thoughts I"ll share here that have provided a helpful perspective for me during these times (given by two separate teachers of mine):
One is that people change when they find their circumstances no longer tolerable. The fact that they don't want to tolerate a condition anymore helps them shift toward change, seek new ways of being and commit to new patterns of behavior. Often times this doesn't occur--meaning a commitment isn't made to new behavior--until the "thing" becomes completely intolerable--whatever the "thing" is. Each person has their own "thing" with which to grapple.
The other is that human beings don't tend to do well when they feel they are out of options. So even in hard situations, it is helpful--even empowering--to recognize where a choice is still being made. A person might be choosing between an array of pretty shitty options--but there is still a choice. So when feeling stuck and out of options, it can help to reflect on what other options there actually are--even the ones that feel outlandish and far-fetched. They are still other options that we aren't choosing. Recognizing that helps us own our choices.
Basically, choices are made according to what the nervous system believes it can handle. Sometimes making a change or taking action feels more uncomfortable or risky then staying in place and staying in "non-action".
Until it's not. Until a different choice is needed. Then we're ready for steps towards change.
What does all this mean?
Well, just that these times lend themselves to that careful look at self-care--that careful look at what's working and what's really not working. So that you can take action to design your own bedrock of pledges.
And get on the road to feeling better.
Care for Yourself and Be Well.
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