To the Beleaguered – 5 Suggestions to Help you Get Through Today
We have never been more ready to say goodbye to such a beast of a year (almost two).
If you are reading this, it is likely because you struggle with and care deeply about your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Or because you are a clinician who cares about the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of your clients. Or both.
And if you are reading this, you may be stretched so far beyond your capacities you are left feeling broken. If this is not you, I am overjoyed. I want for each of you to feel as if you are thriving…or perhaps just above the threshold of surviving.
But if you have been pushed beyond your limits, been asked to sustain the unsustainable, been thrust over the edge of what is tenable, I see you. While you may feel very alone, you are not alone. And while none of us can change our current circumstances, I’d like to offer the following suggestions.
Here are 5 Suggestions to Help you Get Through Today:
- The degree of stress, depth of your age, and sheer exhaustion make perfect sense. All of these emotions and symptoms point to the wisdom of your body. It is a cue that your innate sense of knowing is primed and functioning. It is not a reflection of your failing or ineptitude. Your experience has never been more appropriate or spot on.
- Please consider half-assing as much as you possibly can. Never before have we needed C-level work. A-level work will be the end of us. Dinners of Mac N’ Cheese. Sort of clean clothes. Unmade beds. Sentences with imperfect grammar. Of course if scrubbing your toilet gives you a sense of accomplishment, something to manage that is in your control, go make that porcelain shine! But the folks I work with give over the top, near perfect effort in every area of their lives. And it is TOO MUCH. Please do less and make space for imperfection.
- Counterbalance the intensity of life (particularly if you are in the mental health, education, or medical fields) with as much silliness, frivolity, and what I call “brain candy.” Watch the stupid shows! Supermarket Sweep with host Leslie Jones?! Perhaps make art with naughty coloring books. It doesn’t matter what it is, but your nervous system needs a counterbalance to the intensity you are carrying.
- Eat with regularity, even if you aren’t hungry. Yes, our appetite and digestion gets thrown waaaaay off with high levels of chronic stress. So eat what is easy to digest, eat what is appetizing, and set alarms on your phone to help you remember. Food is the literal building blocks for your neurotransmitters – those chemical messengers that communicate so much essential information in your body. Without those building blocks, emotion regulation and stress management becomes next to impossible.
- Take a deep breath. As I was typing that sentence I noticed I was holding my breath way up in my upper chest. That is a completely normal, albeit unhelpful response when our systems are full of stress. By consciously breathing in and out, utilizing self-awareness to slow your exhale you are literally telling your system to settle down. And I don’t know about you, but I regularly need to have a chat with my nervous system and gently ask it to settle the (expletive) down.
While these 5 suggestions, I hope you feel a smidge more capable of getting through the next hour of your day.