With all of the deep unrest we’re experiencing around the role of police in our society, and the need for justice, safety, and equity for Black people PLUS a light dollop of COVID concern, I find my nervous system overstimulated and fatigued simultaneously.
Many of my patients with chronic health conditions are used to the peaks and valleys of the healing process and the deep personal work it takes to find and address the root cause.
We are now being asked to do this kind of work on a societal and global level.
It’s incredibly necessary that we stay engaged and do the work to bring about change, but it’s also exhausting.
We can’t process everything overnight, nor should we.
Change takes dedication and persistence over time.
We’re in it for the long haul, so we need to be able to rest and reset our systems so we can continue to engage meaningfully.
Here are a few tips to help you cope as we move through this year that the history books will remember:
#1 Take salt baths
This is my favorite recommendation to help my patients chill out.
The magnesium in epsom salt is very relaxing to the nervous system and muscles.
Sink in, light some candles, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and let your body soak up the goodness for 20-30min a few times a week.
Salt baths are excellent for muscle recovery, stress relief, and helping you get to sleep.
Read more about why I love epsom salt baths here.
#2 Focus less on stimulants
Here’s the cycle I see: stress → fatigue → caffeine/nicotine/working harder to push through → more stress → more fatigue → repeat ad nauseam.
When you’re feeling stressed and tired, instead of trying to overcome it (spoiler alert: you never will), instead stop and listen to your body.
Recognize that you need to unplug for a bit, get more sleep, and find rest in activities that you enjoy so you can come back refreshed and ready.
What we’re experiencing right now isn’t going anywhere. It’s not something we’re just going to be able to push through. And we’re not ever “going back to normal”.
We must care for ourselves in order to stay engaged with the change that needs to happen.
If you’re looking for something naturally invigorating and restorative, try adding cold water to the end of your shower.
BONUS: it boosts your immune system!
With the onslaught of police brutality videos, peaceful protestors being harmed, and coronavirus deaths, as a nation we need to grieve.
We are in the midst of relearning a history of systemic racism that was edited for white people to feel better about themselves. History that disregarded the trauma that’s been perpetrated on Black people, native people, and people of color for hundreds of years.
Engaging with our grief opens us to empathy and the knowledge that we are all deeply intertwined in this crazy thing called life.
Leaving our grief unprocessed will harden us, creating a sense of division, disconnection, defensiveness, and denial.
Grief is painful.
Grief is vulnerable.
And grief is necessary for growth.
Even though it is difficult, messy, and exhausting, grieving frees us of the burden carrying everything within ourselves.
The more we grieve the more capacity we have to bring in the new.
To feel and connect.
To hear and understand what we haven’t been able to before because we’ve been so busy holding on and holding in.
Feeling in our hearts the grief, anger, pain, despair, rage, fear, and anxiety is fundamentally necessary to changing a system that was built on oppression, racism, and dehumanization.
As white people, we have to lean into our discomfort, not shut it down or turn away, seeking reprieve from “it all being too much”.
The fact that we have the option to shut down our discomfort, that we are allowed to dip into these feelings on occasion is the definition of white privilege.
These agonizing emotions we experience are literally A FRACTION of what Black folks and POC experience daily.
Emotions that they can’t turn off because it’s their reality to live in a system that devalues their personhood so much that killing people of their skin color in broad daylight doesn’t lead to an immediate arrest, action, or justice.
I beg you to connect and stay with your discomfort.
It’s the most potent motivator for action and change.
Find meaning and calm in pursuing a favorite creative hobby of yours.
Creating connects us with our hearts, which is exactly the medicine we need to ride the waves of 2020.
Many creative pursuits involve a repetitive element where you can drop into the flow of the process.
Getting to this place of flow engenders movement in other areas of our lives by relaxing our nervous system and helping us to be more receptive and open.
I’ve been enjoying hand quilting my first quilt and it’s been very soothing to focus on simple stitches while I listen to podcasts or books on deep, difficult topics.
Find something in your life that allows you to drop into the flow: washing dishes, weeding your garden, petting your animals, painting, dancing, playing music, meditating, sewing, knitting, writing, whatever floats your boat.
Allow the old to flow out of you and the new to come in.
Please add to this list yourself! The more coping mechanisms we have for dealing with the chaos of this time, the better.
It’s time to add more tools to our toolbox for supporting our personal health so we can help our peers who the system actively disenfranchises.
It’s time to take responsibility for ourselves so we can stay present, engaged, and advocate for those with less resources and who are harmed daily by racist historical precedents that inform our institutions, attitudes, and unconscious biases.
Go to therapy and do your work.
Organize a social distancing barbeque to bring some joy and laughter into your life.
Donate to Black Lives Matter.
The more we connect with ourselves, the more we realize that we are not separate; that no one is.
And by separating people out because of their upbringing, race, class, sex, and more we are not only harming them but we are harming ourselves.
To improve our health and the world we see our own existence reflected in everything and everyone. That we are interdependent and that we can only move forward together.