You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to recite the all too memorable safety instructions offered by the flight attendants before takeoff. And what is the most important part of the delivery? I think you can see where I’m going here; of course, it is the reminder that should an emergency occur, put your own oxygen mask first when stress rises and before assisting others. While extremely important, this instruction is often overlooked when we apply it to our everyday lives — not to mention being smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic! But let me ask you this: can you afford to be burned out? Better yet, are you already there?
I don’t think any of us could have anticipated 2020 to be the year of a global health crisis sending us into physical isolation and a complete upheaval of “normal” life, whatever that looked like for you. Collective trauma is real. Grief is real as are the feelings of uncertainty, fear, overwhelm, anxiousness, anger and annoyance during this time. Talk about being on an emotional roller-coaster!
EFT is a tool that regulates the nervous system
As an Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Tapping practitioner, I teach about nervous system regulation, but I’m pretty sure I’ve felt all of the above in less than an hour. That’s okay. During the past two months, I’ve had moments of great creativity and productivity followed by keeping the coffee pot on standby beside the bed, next to the glass of wine. Thank you, Netflix, for Grace & Frankie. Can I get an Amen to that?
The point is there is no manual on how to pivot your life in the 21st century during a global pandemic. You’re fired Google. My invitation to you is quite simple, yet perhaps still difficult. Be gentle with yourself and your family, especially kids. If you are a caregiver of any sort, refer to the top paragraph. It is so important to guard your health, especially mental health, with such vigilance, especially if people depend on you. In my world, we talk a lot about regulation through co-regulation, being mindful of your energy, mood and feelings because they ultimately affect those around you. You cannot support the emotional and mental needs and wellbeing of others if you are not tending to your own first. A calm, regulated nervous system is the greatest gift you can offer yourself and others during this time.
Self-care is your daily oxygen mask
So what can we do to ensure our “oxygen mask” is on? The answer to that includes loads of self-care and self-compassion/forgiveness — especially when we fall short of our own expectations for ourselves. We will make mistakes; this is a fact. Let me also clarify I’m not talking about a glass of wine while having a bubble bath sort of self-care (but if you need a good wine recommendation, I have a few)! No, I’m talking about doing the self-work, learning/utilizing tools such as EFT and leaning on your supports when needed. Make social interaction a priority. Get your feelings and emotions out, even if just on paper. Listen to your body; move if it wants to move — yoga, walks and lifting weights. Rest when you need to — afternoon naps, going to bed early, sleeping in.
That kind of self-care. And most importantly, patience for yourself and others because this is a unique situation we are all learning how to navigate, together while separate. Be well. Be safe.
Learn more about how practicing mindfulness helps you take care of yourself.