Healing + Resilience Tips for Covid19 Quarantine
A lot of emotions are sure to arise during this time of quarantine (especially with school cancelled!). Do we have the time/energy/margin to do the healing work required when everything rises to the surface? Likely not. But that does not mean these things should be wasted! Instead, it’s time we start paying attention to what arises within us.
One of the first steps in a healing process is often searching our hearts. Psalm 139:23-24 which states, “Search my heart and know me, Oh God. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” The process of searching our own hearts (with God) is an important step in our healing journey. So these weeks don’t have to be wasted if we allow them to search our hearts --- in fact, my assertion is that we won’t have to do much searching! Things are going to come right up to the surface. Here are some ways to use that for good.
Pay attention to what comes up without judgement. Apply curiosity more than judgement/shame here. Act like our play therapists do with our kids, thinking things like “hmmmm I wonder why I feel that way?” Or “Hmmmm I wonder where this really comes from?” Instead of “I need to stop feeling this way.”
Write down what you find. This doesn’t mean you have to do an hour of processing or a therapy session right now if you don’t have time. Simply write it down somewhere and start keeping a list. You might even find themes in this writing that will help you process later.
Build trust with your own soul/body. Many of us have spent years invalidating our thoughts/feelings and do not have a trust relationship with ourselves. If you’ve spent any time studying attachment (like a lot of us adoptive/foster parents have!), you know that listening without judgement and speaking gently is an important part of attachment. So listen, write down what you find and then quietly promise your own soul that you will come back and do deeper work with this space. I know this sounds soooooo silly to some of you. But try it! See if it works to give you space to move out of that feeling for a while. If not, no worries. J
Tips for Resilience / Avoidance of Secondary Trauma.
Secondary trauma is described as significant or repeated exposure to the trauma of others around you. This 24/7 news cycle of a virus that is changing the world as we know it definitely qualifies. Many of us come into this space already having secondary trauma (along with a lot of primary trauma too) – so this is something to pay close attention to for our own health and the health of those around us.
Limit traumatic exposure. Yes, listen to the news/radio or read articles about what’s happening so you can make plans to keep yourself/your family safe. But once that’s done – begin to limit your exposure. Turn off the tv (or change the channel. Change the station. Close the browser. Do what it takes to protect your mind so your brain has a chance to turn on your parasympathetic system! (that’s the system that’s often called “rest and digest” and calms down our trauma brain)
Breath Work. 2 minutes of deep breathing can reset your nervous system. I love 4x4 breathing. Breathe in to the count of 4, pause for 4, out for 4, pause for 4, repeat. Whatever system you like, breathe deeply for 2 minutes. Perhaps multiple times a day!
Grounding. (you can do this one while breathing!) If you live somewhere where the ground is warm enough, go outside, take off your shoes and stand in the grass/dirt for a few minutes, breathing slowly and deeply. Do this near a tree if possible! There is something about releasing pent up electricity in your body that allows you to release and relax when you’re doing this.
Grief + Gratitude. Hold space and be gentle with yourself for how things are different today. Whether it’s kids home from school and making a mess or cancelled trips or work being stressful – whatever it is – let yourself grieve a bit! Be sad for a few minutes and tell yourself or your kids “of course you’re sad, you were looking forward to that.” (or whatever works for you!). Then, seek gratitude. Make a list of things you can be grateful for today. Share the stories of good you hear in this world.
You don’t have to be Chicken Little and “the sky is falling” all the time. But you also don’t have to be Pollyanna all the time. Find space for both. Hold both in your hands.
Water / Sleep / Food / Exercise. This might sound silly, but pay attention to giving your body what it needs on a regular basis! Finding yourself extra grumpy? Make sure you’re getting the sleep you need – drinking enough water – eating proper nutrition when possible and getting outside to exercise. Walking, yoga, hiking, etc are especially great because not only do they get your heart pumping, but they provide cross body stimulation.
Sunshine. Looking to exercise? Do it outside if possible. Fresh air and vitamin D are good for your soul.
GRACE. Offer it to yourself, your family, the people on your social media feed, the drivers around you and those at the grocery store (especially the clerks!). Will this week go perfectly according to that schedule you saw shared on FB? Nope. Will you lose it at some point and be grumpy? Yep. That’s what grace and lots of apologies all around are for!
Do something for others. Turn your perspective to others to help you choose to see beauty in this world by being the beauty in this world. Whether its spending an hour texting or posting on people’s social media feeds what they mean to you or gathering groceries for elderly neighbors. Do something.
Laugh / Dance / Sing / Smile / Play. The science tells us that 30 seconds in one of these activities helps change our brain chemistry. Turn the music up, find a Jimmy Fallon youtube channel or make your entire family dress in ridiculous clothes for your family walk around the neighborhood. Just make something fun/funny.
Listen. Listen to your own body /soul to find what you need. Is it a more strict schedule or is it a relaxed schedule? Do you need to cry or laugh? Ask yourself and be intentional with your time!
This time will be crazy. There’s no denying that. But, it also can be a time when we continue to come back to intention. Also, if you’re anything like me and you love efficiency – go ahead and plan to incorporate a few of these ideas all at once by taking a long walk outside (preferably in some kind of 1980’s costume), in the sunshine, with a bottle of water while breathing deeply, listening to your soul, holding space for grief and then making a list of things you’re grateful for J