By Nicole French (she/her)
We often know what is needed to better our mind and our body, and yet it is quite often what we resort to last... Yoga, meditation, writing, reading, laughing and even crying. We believe that holding it together is a sign of strength. We have been taught that pushing on with stress on our shoulders and barreling through is a sign of resilience.
In fact, a recent Disney hit featuring an ice princess repeatedly sends the message, “Conceal it. Don’t feel it.” But that’s Disney and not a reality during a global pandemic. And, truthfully, even the ice princess couldn’t “conceal it” and her natural feelings took over causing greater chaos to her life and those around her.
Allowing your body to feel the tension and noticing it is one of the first, and potentially most critical points in managing this new chaotic world. For many of us, social distancing looks more like social isolation. It is easy to feel excluded, lost, alone, anxious, confused, depressed, agitated... Need I keep going? It is in these moments that we often feel our shoulders start to tense, and our neck creates new cracking sounds... Or is that just me? Our teeth begin to grind and it is easier to ignore the angst than address the true feeling.
For some of us, it looks like taking control in other areas - in all areas - managing what you can’t outside the doors of your home. For others, it is fully isolating ourselves from friends and family members. For a great number, it looks like a roller coaster of feelings, moods, and reactions to those ourselves and those around us. And while all of those things are part of managing this new struggle, it’s listening to your body and your mind before those moments and then finding new ways to respond that will best help us survive this together.
We each need to find our own “thing” to release the pain and tension.
Maybe your “thing” is screaming into the universe because you're angry and sad. This pandemic gives you full permission to kick at the leaves, stomp in the mud, and allow it to hit and splatter you. Feel it. You'll be stronger because you did.
Maybe your “thing” is nature - even if it never has been before. Feel the sun on your shoulders. Force them away from your ears. Pull them back down your body. Because the heat on our body allows the knots to loosen and it penetrates through until you start to feel whole again and not so broken. That is resilience.
Maybe your “thing” is to feel what it is to stop. To put the phone down, the device away, the TV off and to be in your head. Maybe your thing is to escape the media and the scrolling information across our TVs and enter into someone else’s world in a book, a new series, or movie.
Maybe your “thing” is to just cry. In front of people and alone. Each of us is grieving a loss unbeknownst to others. You may let them see you feel and let them know how to support you. In these moments, you'll allow them to feel, also.
But maybe the “thing” that is the most healing is to write. Write about all that you know and all that you don't.
Tell the story of the time you were alone, you lost your cool, and you were grateful for having toilet paper.
Record the moments that you became stronger because you felt your body, assessed your mind, and made an active attempt to heal.
Read your writing and feel that pain again while still peering for the light that will shine at the end of this tunnel.
Take the time to know that you’re not in that same space. Feel the pride in the story you tell. You will find healing in your writing because in the words of Margaret Atwood, “A word after a word after a word is power.”