Self-care in challenging times

We live in intense times of change and uncertainty. People are struggling. Our world is changing and that brings with it a whole gamut of emotions and challenges.

I used to spend many hours and days walking in the mountains of Tasmania, my home for many years. On a beautiful clear day it is magnificent up there. You can see for miles. You walk between the mountains up on the Central Plateau and can see right down to the mountains in the south -west. Even in summer you need to be prepared though, as the weather can turn wild quickly.

On a sunny day, as you walk amongst that beauty, you might spot an eagle, relax by one of the mountain lakes or climb a mountain along the way.

In everyday life, when things are going well, the days go by with relative ease. There might be a few bumps along the way but mostly things flow and you get to share it with friends, family and people you meet throughout your days.

But it’s a different story when the weather comes in

But it’s a different story when the weather comes in. The mist rolls in, the wind picks up and the blizzard arrives. Suddenly you can’t see more than a few metres in front of you. You’re not sure of the track anymore, and what is next. You realise that you’re out in the wilds, days from a road or from help.

It’s similar for us in times of crises

It  becomes harder to see our way forward and make decisions. We may feel anxious, uncertain, and even panic at times. But life keeps going. We still have commitments to meet, things to do. If we’re lucky, we can take some time out to get assistance or do whatever we need to bring back more balance, but we don’t always have that luxury.

What do you do when the crunch comes?

In the mountains, you take stock of where you are. You care for the basics. Gone is the attention outwards. You need to care for yourself first. Put on extra clothes, put up your tent, do everything you need to take care of yourself.

You don’t try to escape the blizzard if you’re out there in the middle of it, days away from shelter. Chances are you’ll die if you try that.

It’s all about taking care of yourself in the middle of it all

So often when things are difficult, we try harder, we clench up. But what if in this moment we simply notice what is, go deeper into this moment, just as it is? Not to process anything but to allow and acknowledge its presence.

It then becomes much easier. It’s not that the situation changes necessarily, but the space in which it is held becomes bigger.

So how do we do that?

Firstly, acknowledge the situation you’re in

Stop and really come into the moment and notice what you’re feeling. Notice any sensations or discomfort, or emotions you might be feeling. Notice what you’re thinking about it all.  Be willing to see the whole situation that you are dealing with.  We can’t always make the blizzards in life go away but the first step is to become present to it.

Example: I felt a tension in my belly and found it hard to concentrate. I just wanted to get up and do something. As a stayed though, I felt a lot of fear. I felt fear at feeling the fear, if that makes sense. As I relaxed into it, it’s like I was becoming more and more aware of the situation as a whole, rather than just my stress about it. Somehow I could see the whole of it better.

Secondly, bring some love and gentleness to the situation

Sit for a moment; close your eyes and notice your body, whatever you are feeling. As you breathe in, soften and notice the space that is already there. Let each breath bring more gentleness and soften a little more. Ask to receive love in this situation. Know that it is OK.  Again, you are not trying to change or process anything here, but rather to bring the love and gentleness to it and to your heart.  What do you notice?

Example: As I did this I felt even more fear at first, but somehow as I kept softening and bringing the gentleness, it felt easier. It became even more intense in a way, but at the same time I felt a lot safer with it all. I could feel the love and gentleness more. I felt more supported.

And thirdly…

Now ask yourself … what small step can I take today to care for myself?

You might want to write it down.

As you take a few minutes regularly throughout your day to do this, it starts to become second nature to you.  Often in a crisis one of the first things to go is our sense of spaciousness and clear vision.  The more that we can bring kindness, gentleness and love into each moment, the more stable we are to deal with the things that comes our way.

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with love, Lure

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