We’re officially three weeks into lockdown, and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of things changing anytime soon. How are you doing? How have you been managing?
For me, it’s been quite a busy time working online and on the phone with clients. On a personal note, I’ve also got my eldest home from university and my other kids off school, and my partner is also working from home, so we have got a full house. We’re doing ok. However, at the moment, I find myself not sleeping well, having vivid dreams and waking up feeling out of sorts quite a lot. What about you? This morning I was awake early again, so I listened to the dawn chorus, and I watched the squirrels in the oak tree outside our window for a while, and I started to feel a bit better.
Last week I watched a great workshop by Deb Dana, a clinician in the US who specialises in helping people explore and resolve trauma. It was all about how our bodies are responding to this current situation of COVID-19. I want to share a little of what she said here.
Out of awareness, our nervous system is continuously monitoring our situation and environment to see whether we are safe or not. Our nervous system needs context and information, connection to others and options. Choice is essential for feeling safe, and if we perceive, there is no choice (as we don’t know the end to our current situation) we shift into survival mode.
In lockdown, we find ourselves at odds with our very own biology. We have the drive to survive (in this case to isolate ourselves), but also as humans, we have a longing to connect with others; It’s called coregulation, and it’s a biological imperative.
So how can we regulate ourselves? There are so many suggestions and recommendations out there at this time aren’t there? It can be quite overwhelming going on social media to see what others are doing or what they suggest you should be doing. However, one size does not fit all!
Dana suggests you ask your nervous system! What is it that works for you? What helps settle you? I do want to emphasise at this point that it’s ok to feel your feelings and that includes anxiety. We don’t have to squash them down and carry on. It’s about taking care of yourself with kindness and savouring the good moments too.
Here’s her idea. Get a big piece of paper and write your menu of the day. On the menu, write what things you can do that will help settle you if you begin to feel anxious, out of sorts, upset etc. Put it up somewhere where you can see it or in your pocket if you want to keep it private. Then it’s there to remind you when you need it throughout the day.
What has been working for you so far? What could you put on your list?
Talking to others, walking, yoga, listening to music, exercise, reading, gardening, mindfulness, playing games, audiobooks, doing jobs in the house, writing, cooking, baking, listening to or watching nature outside, meditation, cuddling (pets or humans xx), working, breathing techniques, drawing, painting, making, creating, watching TV, listening to podcasts………….?
What would you add to your menu today?
When we’re in the storm of thoughts and feelings, we might forget what helps us. If you’ve got it written on your menu, it’s a visual prompt to remind you what will help.
Here’s my menu for today.
I wish you and your families well.
Stay safe x