Throughout these days of frequent changes and uncertainty about tomorrow it is normal to feel a little off-balance. Your hopes for the new year did not include prolonged time at home due to a pandemic, yet here you are running on a hamster wheel of eat, sleep, and repeat. You may be feeling unnerved as you wait for life to return to some semblance of normal, maybe even wondering what normal will look like.
If you are a parent of young children you find yourself in the awe-inspiring role of parent, teacher, boredom-breaker, short-order cook, mediator, and encourager. If your children are grown and out of the nest you may be feeling a compelling desire to gather them closer to home as the news reports come in and things feel a bit too close to home.
If you find yourself living alone during these times of uncertainty you may be feeling lonely without the physical proximity of friends and family. If you are considered high risk, you are trying to make sense of things and may feel discouraged that your family is staying away as a precaution. You sit tight, participating in virtual visits that help curb the loneliness in the moment, but do not satisfy the longing you have to be close to your loved ones, to give a hug and receive one back…things that were taken for granted now seem incredibly important.
Much of your day to day living is done reflecting on what has happened in the past or projecting forward to what may happen in the future. When you live your life this way, it is easy to ruminate on past events that may have brought pain, or project to an uncertain future and allow anticipation of a bad outcome to control your thoughts. If any of this sounds true for you, here are some ways to stay in the moment by practicing mindfulness skills:
- Breathing: When thoughts spin out of control and the ‘what ifs’ seem to grab a firm hold of you take time to intentionally breathe. Take a moment to focus on your breath, by focusing on intentional breathing we can give our minds and our bodies a much-needed break. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it briefly, then expel it out through your mouth. Repeat this for a series of 7-8 breath cycles. Notice your breathing, letting go of anything else that is trying to push its way into your mind.
- Observation: Take some time to observe your surroundings, what do you see, feel, hear, smell, taste. Take one sense at a time and allow it to be utilized to its fullest potential as you take in your surroundings. As you get caught up in what you are sensing you may notice that random thoughts will try to invade this sacred space, that is normal. Go ahead and push them away and allow your mind to return to what you are sensing. This is a judgment-free zone where it is okay if your mind wanders, when it does (and it will) just gently bring it back to the task at hand. Use this time to enjoy nature, art, or any other experiential exercise.
- Appreciation: During this time at home, you may be remotely aware of the routine tasks that you do daily…tasks that may seem more monotonous lately. By taking time throughout the day to be thankful for these small things you enter into a spirit of appreciation for what is oftentimes taken for granted when life is moving fast. There will be an end to the mandates and life will ease back into a new routine. When that happens, it will be beneficial to have treasured up the small moments that helped you get through each day. Extra time with the kids, nature walks, painting rocks, fishing, cooking, reflecting…whatever it is that you did in time will be a distant memory, one that reveals the strength and resilience that lives inside of you.
If you have not found moments of peace during these days, or if you are struggling to move forward with hope contact me today to discuss how counseling support can help get you back on track.