On March 14th, most of us were thrown into reactive mode. We were told that schools would close, restaurants would have to shut their doors, and we were told to stay home and physically distance ourselves from each other. That alone was enough to throw us into a tailspin. And then we were told that all non-essential businesses would have to close. Every single day, sometimes hour by hour, we are being spun around.
It is okay if you are feeling dizzy. It is okay if you are feeling like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. It is okay to feel all the feels.
For me, on March 14h, my body and mind went into overdrive. To my core I am a problem solver and I went into my default. Adrenalin pumped through my body and my mind was sharp. It was though I could hear:
‘“Your tribe is in trouble!”
“You community is in trouble!”
“Your friends and family are in trouble!”
It’s like getting those emergency alerts on your phone, but it was happening in my head.
This, by the way, is a completely normal response to a fearful experience. Our brain is designed to protect us for when we are in a dangerous situation. Our sympathetic nervous system turns on and we can go into fight, flight or freeze. We often have a default and mine is usually fight. My fight was to help my tribe emotionally. It is what I do, what I feel by default I need to do.
Our bodies are not designed to be in such a state 24 hours a day, for days on end. And after about 10 days of that, my mind and body shut down. I couldn’t write another post, record another podcast, coach another client without feeling like I was going to crack. This is also a normal response. It is our trigger that we need to rest.
I was also noticing how annoyed and frustrated I was getting by seeing posts online and in my email box about using this time to work harder, to keep selling, to keep marketing, to work, work, work. I was thinking, “doesn’t everyone just want to take a minute to process this? Don’t they just want to sit and chat with their friends and family about their feelings?”
By the way, they are not wrong in doing and saying what they are doing and saying. I was reacting that way because I was not taking the time to process how this was affecting my life and how I was feeling and also because my body and mind (my sympathetic nervous system) could longer just exist in reactive mode. I was in need of a pause. My parasympathetic nervous system was in need of a rest.
Difference between Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Nervous System. The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for the “fight or flight” response during any potential danger. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system inhibits the body from overworking and restores the body to a calm and composed state.
This is what happens and needs to happen. Our bodies are not designed to carry the heavy burden of being in a constant state of high stress, high adrenaline, high fight or flight all the time.
So I paused. I took a deep breath I wrote that. I sat on the couch one day and just sunk into all the emotions of what is happening across the globe and in my own circles. For a couple of days I allowed myself to not work, or come up with the perfect post or podcast to give some the “answer” on how to deal with this unprecedented situation, being okay with not knowing, and I did what I wanted and needed to do. I spent the next few days talking to my friends and family, crying, laughing with my husband and just having silly moments, processing my emotions in my journal, sleeping in, reading a really great spiritual book called Conversations With God, taking Axl for walks, cooking delicious food in the kitchen for my husband and I, eating a lot of pasta, and just being. We are human beings, not human doings – sometimes we just have to be.
And then last night something magical happened. I could feel myself wake up again. This morning my creative brain awakened and I was ready to come here and write to all of you. I wrote this all out in my journal first because I love the pen to paper, then I did the next thing I wanted to do, which was take Axl for a walk. I had to force myself because everything inside of me was going to default of work first, do this first, instead of listening to my desires. That is normal by the way. I think it will take us all some time to create new defaults.
These are unprecedented times. We are swimming in unchartered waters. Yes our businesses and finances are important and we need to put plans in place…AND, not but, we also need to take care of our emotional and mental health. Now more than ever because when we are in panic and fear, we don’t make great decisions and can’t be there for our family, friends and community.
I encourage you all, and myself, to practice living in the moment as much as we can. I know, not easy right now. That is why I say practice because it will be a practice and new defaults for many of us. 24 hours…that is what we have each day and that is all we can control right now. For me, I can’t handle the stress of living in the future, wanting to know when this will all end and we can go back to “normal.” The future-tripping is making many of us feel like we are going mad hatter mad.
What I have realized is that I can’t serve, which is what I want to do, if I don’t take pause and care for my emotional and mental health. Now more than ever before, that must go on the top of my list before I do anything. Which is why I went for a walk with Axl this morning before sitting down at my computer and creating my weekly Monday coaching email 🙂 It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be both.
The questions for being in the present become:
- What can I do today?
- How can I serve today?
- What do I need to do and can do in the next 24 hours, or the next 24 minutes if that is the only bandwidth you can handle right now?
Remember, you don’t have to have it ALL figured out. We are all in a learning phase, trying to figure out how to swim in these unchartered waters. Maya Angelou said, “when we know better, we can do better.” So allow yourself each day to learn what you need to know.
I’m offering free coaching to anyone who is struggling right now, or just needs extra support. You can message me anytime and we will set up a phone or Zoom appointment.
I believe that right now it isn’t just important to do a weekly check-in, but a daily check-in. Remember what I said above, a lot can and is changing every 24 hours right now.
Daily check-in questions:
- What do I need mentally today?
- What do I need emotionally today?
- What do I need physically today?
- What do I need spiritually today?