It seems like a lifetime ago I was writing about sparkly open-toed leopard booties…
Because it was.
It’s a new world now and with all the upheaval, the drastic changes and the pall of uncertainty, nothing will ever be the same.
And yet, there is still truth and JOY to be found, even if in some ways we are being held captive in our homes in order to stay safe and healthy.
Well, we also need to stay SANE and that’s not always easy, especially considering the global crisis around us.
In some ways, I have quite a bit of expertise when it comes to mental health, and I come by it honestly through the best possible school in the Universe: experience.
As a highly sensitive person who learned early on how to hide and disassociate from intense emotion, I needed to unravel ineffective coping mechanisms that throughout adulthood started causing more issues than they were solving (because really, drinking red wine and smoking pot will only get you so far in life…).
Luckily, I have acquired an incredible toolbox and as I develop my Life Coaching practice, I am eager to share what I have learned, and what works well for me.
And so I present to you a snippet of my favorite tools right now – some are obvious but great reminders. Others are more novel and might make you go “WTF?”
Regardless of your response, I hope that what I share here is helpful and maybe even beneficial in these moments of social distancing and beyond. Especially #7 which is rife with methods that will serve for all your emotional triggers – now and in the future, whatever that looks like.
In my opinion, we create our own realities and with this global pause button, we have a perfect opportunity to reassess and recalibrate how we are showing up for ourselves (most importantly!), our families, our communities, and our businesses.
So here they are, in list form:
7 Tips for Staying SANE
- Spring Clean
- Stick a pen in your mouth
- Listen to nature sounds
- Drink more water and BREATHE
- Emotional Freedom Technique
- Emotional Alchemy
The other day my daughter was helping me tidy up the house. The sun was shining, igniting the fragrance of the bright green grass outside. The windows and doors open, we watched and listened as birds flitted and chirped around the feeders.
While my husband and I tried to stay on task with the organizing, she threw her arms out and twirled around stating, in a sing-songy voice:
It feels like we are cleaning up Winter and welcoming Spring!
Adorable and insightful, that one.
And it’s true. Though we are all hunkered down right now, exploring what it feels like to bake bread with our own hands and have a government-induced reason to binge-watch Netflix, there is something in the air that hits this time of year.
And it ignites a desire to sweep away the old and welcome the new.
And with it comes the benefits of not only controlling what you can (the environment of your home) but it also feeds the relationship between our internal and external landscapes.
As without, so within.
And if you know me, and my work, you know that I’m all about cleaning up the closet!
Going through your clothes can be an exercise in reviewing who you have been, and with my methods, can help put you in touch with who you are becoming.
Because we are all going to be showing up differently so now is a great time to shift.
And since you might be looking at your closet facing another form of OVERWHELM, take a look at my self-study Capsule Creation Course. Creating a capsule wardrobe within your current wardrobe is an amazing way to get in touch with what you love to wear and what you want to wear more of – it becomes the backbone of a more in-depth editing process and it’s gentle and accessible. Both welcome feelings right now, as always.
Stick a pen in your mouth
This relates to what I mention above about the internal and external landscapes.
And I don’t mean eat the pen.
Rather, in a horizontal orientation, place it between your teeth. Doing so literally forces you to “smile” rather than have that RBF (resting bitch face) all the time that contributes to droopy jowls down the line.
We want to come out the other side of this pandemic better than when we went in, mmmmkay?
Leave the pen in until you start to drool.
That should be just enough time to lighten your mood.
Listen to nature sounds
One of the delightful results of what we are going through right now is fewer cars on the road, quieter streets and thus more opportunity for nature to infiltrate our lives.
In the past century there has been a global and systemic disconnection from nature – as if we have been in denial of what is truly within and around us for the sake of “progress”.
But now, all the factors we thought indicated our superiority over nature are shuttered and unavailable for the health and safety of our human race.
We have to stop racing, at least for the near future, and how wonderful we can relish in evidence of something much larger, older, and wiser than we are.
The cycles of nature continue despite our own shutdown.
Blossoms bely the unemployment rate and the warm sun can still fill isolated hearts with optimism.
Where I live in Connecticut the road in front of our house typically sees over 200,000 cars a day. But now that number has dwindled and at night, for the first time since moving here five years ago, I can hear the peeper frogs sing a nightly symphony from the banks of the river across the street.
If you don’t have access to any sort of nature, here is LINK to some relaxing river sounds.
Listen and see what happens for you. Yes, for you.
All of this is for us. It’s not happening to us it’s happening for us though being in full acceptance of that might take some time. (Scroll to tip #7 for more on expediting that process).
Drink more water + BREATHE
Back in my days as a wilderness leader for children, I was known as “The Water Dictator.” At the start of every trip, before we left basecamp, I would insist everyone drink a certain amount of water and then refill their bottles before setting out. And then I would monitor how much everyone was getting throughout the day, or days.
Many rolled their eyes but I knew well the effects of dehydration: lethargy, crankiness, hunger, inability to think straight.
Not ideal when you are on the trail. Or anywhere, really.
And I find that now, without the typical zeitgeist of yoga classes and errand-running, I’m forgetting about how much water I really need.
The trickiest aspect of mild dehydration is the hunger – a lot of times we think we are hungry but really we are thirsty.
So take a few nice big gulps of water the next time you reach for another #coronatinesnack and then wait a beat – you might find you don’t actually need the whole bag of chips to feel satisfied.
Oh yeah, and BREATHE.
Personally I forget this one. I get tense and I hold my breath. But that’s even worse than being dehydrated.
Doubly worse when you are not breathing and not drinking enough water.
Basic self-care, people. We can’t get our nails done right now but we can hydrate and breathe and keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level.
I admit it. When I first learned about this approach to “moving energy through the system”, I thought it was huey.
And there are plenty of people who refer to EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) as pseudo-science.
Which is understandable because of all the scientists who have studied it, no one can prove why it works.
Which doesn’t matter. Because sometimes we don’t have to know why something works, just that it does.
Once I got over how cooky and New Age (though it is based on ancient Chinese practices of chi and the presence of subtle anatomy energy meridians) it seemed to tap on various points on my head and torso while repeating affirmation-like phrases, I found exactly what the name implies: freedom.
For most of my life, I normalized anxiety to the point that I didn’t know what anxiety was, just that it was the way things were for me.
Once I eliminated my coping mechanisms (see reference above to wine and marijuana) I had to face a whole lotta EMOTION.
I felt anything but free.
And this practice has been a cornerstone coping mechanism for me anytime I feel that familiar sensation of tightness in my chest that has been known to cause the intermittent panic attack.
I promise, you won’t think it’s weird once you experience how well it works. It’s simple, accessible, and free.
Free freedom? Yes, please.
Here is a quick VIDEO I made walking through an anxiety release with a short introduction to what EFT is.
I am currently enrolled in a 200-hour yoga teacher training that, of course, is now online.
This past weekend one of my peers asked the question: why do we do yoga?
My initial what-a-stupid-question response surprised me but then I quickly checked myself (I am becoming a yoga teacher, after all) and realized that not only was it a valid question, it was a great one!
Yoga is an ancient practice that was created in order to better attain a deep state of meditation. By synchronizing breath and movement, all kinds of beneficial things happen for the body, mind and spirit which yoga (derived from the word yolk meaning union) works to bring all together.
Stretching relaxes us and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which supports the sympathetic nervous system which, working together, is what keeps us healthy and vibrant.
Which is exactly what we are looking for here, as always.
Strong, healthy and vibrant beings. YES!
So if you haven’t tried yoga, it is now even more accessible than ever with many studios offering online classes. I particularly like “live” classes where the teacher interacts with you directly so search your local studio )or beyond) for their mixed level classes.
Okay, so I saved the best, and my favorite, for last. Thank you for sticking with me (or scrolling down here from the top because you wanted the goods first).
Either way, I would like to introduce you to a concept that has turned me from one of those people who has a beautiful life but is deeply miserable into someone who can take leaden emotions and turn them into gold.
This is what I mean by Emotional Alchemy.
I truly wish I had discovered this process decades ago but alas, when we are really ready to learn, the teacher appears.
The premise of the process is rooted in the approach that as humans, we are responsible for our “ride” and our experience on earth. As such, we exist in a non-dual paradox that offers us the opportunity to experience a full spectrum of emotion.
So while there might be some boredom in your life right now, maybe you are feeling trapped and isolated?
Well, there’s literal GOLD in that situation and in some ways, a part of you, and all of us, wanted to know what that felt like both individually and collectively.
Kinda trippy, huh?
And it really, really works.
As an empath I have always experienced emotion viscerally.
Say something terse to me and it shoots through my veins like a bullet.
Give me a compliment and I have to grip onto the nearest piece of furniture.
Tell me something sad and I crumple to the ground.
But, when I learned how to alchemize my feelings rather than repress or deny them (what we are taught and often forced to do), the world around me changed because I began to interact with my experience in a new and rather exciting way.
Now life is more of a game.
Sure there are some D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T moments (because they are actually part of the fun) but they don’t have the same devastating effect on me they once did.
I have more energy. I get sick less. I’m able to show up for myself, my family and my business in a new, purpose-driven way.
And let me tell you, that is the ultimate goal of gold.
So, as you play the game of life, I offer to be your cheerleader as you navigate these remarkable times, while we set new precedents on a global level.
In any of the moments of questioning who you are or what it looks like for you on the other side of this, who you will be and how you will show up in the world – start to ask: who am I being right now?
It might be a question you ask more than once and when you do start exploring what that is, a whole lotta emotion can come to the surface.
That, too, is a game and I can be the one on the sidelines cheering you to the ultimate victory: self-knowing and living an embodied and fully expressed human existence.
Success is staying sane, and staying present though it’s ok to “check out” sometimes…