I think we have all just about had it with the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s get out of here, shall we?
OK, Coronavirus, you mean schoolyard bully, you win. You have taken a toll on all of us physically, mentally, and emotionally. For some, you’ve brought devastating grief and loss. For all of us, mega STRESS. Yes, the vaccine gives us hope. But it’s going to be a while before life looks anything like normal!
Surprise! It turns out that having our routines turned upside down, holing up at home, being isolated and having nothing to look forward for months on end isn’t ideal for our mental or emotional state.
Both the pandemic and the trainwreck political situation in the US have dominated my sessions with clients for the last several weeks. Most of the people I’ve talked to recently are dealing with stress and exhaustion. Covid-19 has officially closed in and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had someone in their close inner circle affected. For those of us with kids at home, keeping up with the constantly changing virtual, hybrid, in-person situation has been nothing short of maddening.
Stress is an adaptive response that is supposed to be VERY short term, as in just long enough to outrun that tiger.
It wasn’t meant to last months and months. What does chronic stress feel like? You may notice tension in your neck, clenched jaw, a headache, GI issues, racing heart rate or sweaty palms. You feel this way because your adrenal glands are pumping you full of stress hormones and sending a message to your brain that you are not safe.
So, let’s get out of here for a few minutes. This is a simple and classic visualization technique that you can use anywhere, anytime to help lower stress and let your frazzled nervous system calm down so you can feel better. This really works, and is also a GREAT thing to teach your kids and do together!
This calm place meditation is quick and easy, and it helps!
I often use this type of visualization as preparation for difficult trauma work. My favorite thing about it is that I get to go to the calm place too. You might also think of it as a happy, peaceful or safe place, where nothing bothers you. The purpose of this place is to help your frazzled nervous system reset and calm down.
This is a place where you are completely at peace, away from the cares of the world.
This could be somewhere you have been in real life, somewhere you want to go or even a place in your imagination. Sometimes it works better to imagine yourself in your safe place without other people, because many times people can bring up memories or mixed emotions, they’ve left us or let us down. This place is just for you. But if imagining a favorite human or pet with you helps you feel extra relaxed, go for it.
Some people choose the woods, a lake or a sunny meadow. You can have as many as you like! One of my favorites is to visualize myself in front of a roaring fire on a snowy day, curled up with my blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.
Today though, I’m thinking BEACH.
Directions: no GPS or plane ticket required!
You might find it helpful to record yourself reading these steps aloud.
- Take a moment to settle into the present moment. Feel your feet on the floor and your body supported by whatever you are sitting on. Take a slow breath in and really pay attention as you exhale. Close your eyes or just gaze softly a few feet in front of you.
- Think of a place that makes you feel happy, calm or relaxed. It could be a real or imaginary place.
- Allow all five of your senses to come into focus. What do you see? Notice any colors or shapes. What sounds do you hear? What do you feel in your body or what could you touch in this place? Is there a taste? Maybe you imagine that you have a fruity drink in your hand, a piece of candy in your mouth or can taste the salty air. What smells are in this place? For me, sunscreen. Smell is one of our most powerful links to memory and relaxation.
- Take a few moments to sit and enjoy this place. If you get distracted or your mind starts to chatter- don’t worry! Just notice that your mind is a bit busy today, gently bring yourself back to the scene and take another nice, slow breath.
- When you are ready, open your eyes and come back into the present. Take your time! Move your body gently. Shake out your hands and arms, wiggle your toes. And try to bring this peaceful happy feeling with you as you go about your day.
Are you feeling better?
Now, please pass the sunscreen,