The sky is sunny, it’s officially summer, but you’re feeling blue. Relate?
When times are uncertain and evolving by the hour, possibly the heaviest challenge is to allow ourselves to feel what’s there – even if it’s a mixed bag of emotions. Relieved, anxious, calm, sad, outraged, empowered…there is space for all of them.
Allow this to be a healthy reminder to take a respite from any pressure to feel a certain way. The reality is we often feel compelled by more than one emotion, and those emotions can co-exist. It’s also genuinely OK to not be feeling like your most productive or purposeful self, all day every day.
In recent days, we’ve seen a steady stream of mixed messaging around what we ‘should’ be feeling and which actions speak loudest. Whether you’ve been quietly learning and processing or actively engaging online or offline, there’s much to synthesize. From the global COVID-19 pandemic to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, 2020 has taken an immense emotional and psychological toll.
So, how do we deal?
“The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.” – Tenzin Palmo
One antidote to feeling helpless or low on energetic bandwidth is to take a moment to acknowledge what’s out there, then look inside. When the world around us feels disconnected and dystopian, it’s an opportunity to journey inward and unpack negative or limiting beliefs that hold us back.
You can be disillusioned and distraught while leading with trust and compassion. When we approach a moment this way, we offer something that doesn’t come from a place of reactive or defensive energy.
Here are three mantras to help tune in. Find a place of stillness, and repeat these several times (in silence or out loud):
This thought is a choice.
Peace is right here.
I choose grace, ease and awareness.
Pause and reflect.
Recognize the ebb and flow of emotional tides. In one quick or abrupt moment, you might find yourself swaying from joy and gratitude to sudden angst and panic. It’s OK. Through identifying these intrinsic fluctuations, your whole perception can shift.
When we react suddenly to an external event (including something we see online), we trigger a 90-second chemical process in the body. This primes our stress hormones to the max, where we have about 90 seconds to either react or observe an emotion.
In her book, My Stroke of Insight, brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor explains the lifespan of an emotion in the “90-second rule”. According to Dr. Taylor, if you leave an emotion uninterrupted by thoughts, you can regain control of your reaction much faster.
Next time you experience an emotional response, practice taking deep breaths for 90 seconds and gently listen to what comes up. In a world where responses can easily slip ‘out of control,’ we can control how we react.
Find new ways to learn OR unlearn and connect.
If you experience ‘digestive’ issues from consuming mainstream media feeds, take an intermittent fast from your regularly scheduled programming.
Follow organizations or social influencers whose voice and messaging resonate with you (to name a few – diveinwell, holisticism, laylafsaad, taranajaneen, spirituallyfly, eji_org). Silence your digital news alerts for a few hours, read topical books or listen to podcasts that inform and inspire change (several goodies – Social Matters, Tiny Spark, Embedded).
Bottom line: being informed and taking action can stir up a lot of uncomfortable feelings, but this shouldn’t induce chronic stress, insomnia, or real digestive trauma.
Get offline and recharge in nature.
The trees have your back. Yep, we know this is one of the oldest tips in the book (and arguably the most effective). Spending time bathing in the forest or surrounded by nature keeps us rooted and safe, in the most neutral space of non-judgment.
If you’re based in an urban environment, find a green space or park where you can embrace calm. And surround yourself with indoor plant life.
Pulling the wool over our eyes and crawling into an emotional cavern is problematic. But it’s critical to practice tuning in and taking time to observe the feels.
Thoughts and emotions inform how we show up in the world. And we have a choice to show up with an open mind and heart.
Especially when our world is in deep, deep need of more love.