Howdy everyone! It’s been a hot minute!
I’m back, and after many cups of coffee I’ve gotten myself ready to write some new blog content, so I thought I’d start off with a reflection of how dang important it is to feel, and to acknowledge how rough we’ve had it lately.
I think we can all agree that the past 18 months have been tough as heck for everyone. ln all of the uncertainty, anxiety and fear that has come with living through a pandemic and multiple global crises, I’ve been wondering how the hell are we supposed to be together, functioning adults. I’ve luckily had the past week off of work, and have had time to reflect, recharge, and think about how we can get through the emotional muddiness that many of us are experiencing.
The thing I’ve been doing this week and have found most helpful to being able to get myself back together and moving forward, is to simply allow myself the space and time to feel my feelings (and boyo, were there a lot of them). I don’t think that I’d realised that I’d slipped back into ‘survival mode’, the thing that most of us have been in to generally cope and not implode over how messed up the world is. When you are dealing with the difficulties of life whether it be a breakup, illness, a tough time at work, the overwhelm of study, or, you know, the trauma of living through a global pandemic, it is important to recognise when you are in the throws of survival mode. Being aware of this will allow you to know when you can safely hit the brakes, and open up the space to process what is going on for you. It will also allow you to seek help and support before a final inconvenience tips you over the edge (ie. your car rego arrives in the mail and everything is a disaster).
We can spend days, months or even years in survival mode, not consciously aware that we are putting our feelings aside to be able to continue doing all of the things necessary to keep a roof over our heads. And look, it’s called survival mode for a reason, it serves a purpose and can be useful. If you are on the verge of tears but are running late to pick up your kids from school, then survival mode is what will get you through to do what needs to be done.
What I’m saying is, survival mode is often necessary, but we need to know when it is useful and when it is not. If we don’t make time to release the pressure valve when we are going through the hard parts of life, we make it all the more dangerous for us when we finally have no choice but to face it all.
The challenge with life at the moment is that it is hard for everyone, and most of us are in survival mode. The knowledge that life is draining and difficult for us all at the moment can also prevent us from really connecting with one another and reaching out. There’s often a niggly voice in the back of our heads that says things like “yeah, I’m feeling like shit, but other people have it way worse, so I can’t talk about it” or “work sucks at the moment but I can’t talk about it because I’m lucky to even have a job at this time!”. These voices are the voices of survival mode, and they aren’t useful.
You are allowed to feel shit about the things that are going wrong for you right now, and you can be aware that other people also suffer in different ways. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed and sad and angry at the state of the world, and also know that you are so damn lucky to be safe and have the freedoms that you do. You can miss the people you haven’t seen in over a year, and know that there are people who have had loved ones who are in another country pass away in this time. All of these things can be true, and they don’t have to negate one another. You can feel your feelings, and you don’t need to qualify or quantify them to anyone.
So I encourage you to take a moment, an evening, or a day this coming week to stop, and really check in with yourself. Examine any anxiety bubbling under the surface, think about why you got so angry in your car today, ask yourself why you’re feeling more tired than usual, and allow the feelings to come.
Remember that when you stop and allow yourself space to feel, you may encounter more than you were expecting. When I sat back and really checked in with myself this week I ended up crying for 3 days, which was quite a shock! So please remember that when you take the time to feel what’s going on for you, or when you look at what is happening in the world, it’s very possible that you might need more support than what is in reach at that very moment. Reach out to a loved one, journal, call a friend, or if you need more support remember you can always call Life Line on #13 11 14.
And if you are feeling okay within yourself, then why not reach out to a loved one and see how they are doing? Remember that when you are reaching out and supporting someone else who is feeling blue, it can be a good idea to ask them what they need from you to feel supported. Sometimes when my partner and I are feeling low we will ask each other what we need at that moment. Some helpful questions are: Do you need to vent? Do you want to talk about some solutions? Do you just need a big cuddle?
We all need different kinds of support at different times, and that’s okay.
I really encourage you to take the time to check in with yourself this week, and to be open to whatever comes out. If you need to, have a good shower cry (a personal favourite), go out for a nice meal with someone or take a bunch of flowers to a friend who needs support. There are so many ways that we can be effective in this world, but we cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself, and let’s do our best to take care of each other too.