Updated: Apr 27, 2020
There are moments this past week when I feel like the main character in Nick Bland’s children’s book, The Very Cranky Bear. Do you know the story? Four little friends try different ways to cheer him up but only one very plain little sheep looks and listens closely enough to discover what the bear is really needing. The little sheep sacrifices her own wool to make the bear a soft pillow so he can finally fall asleep. What an empathetic little sheep! I feel like I used to be that sheep before the world turned upside down.
Okay, so I’m cranky. I purposely chose the Bitter font for this post! I think most of the world is cranky right now.
If I was to look at the Thayer Matrix I could honestly say I’m getting stuck in the Low Energy/ High Tension (LT/HT) quadrant a lot! I know this because even the tiny things bug me. I feel like this quadrant is shaded black for a reason. It can get so dark it’s hard to find your way out. I need some light! I feel like I’m stuck in COVID-19 muck and need help getting out. Even though I know all the five practices of Self-Reg, I have had pangs of panic that drain me of energy and bring me to tears. At those times, it all just seems too much. But being stuck keeps teaching me so much about myself. It feels like hell, but it also makes me get real about why I got here. The challenge is to find ways to get unstuck. If I look and listen, my body and my brain have the answers.
Back to the Very Cranky Bear story. Remember the simple little sheep? Her sacrifice was big, she didn’t care what she looked like, even though the other animals seemed to only think about themselves and what would make them happy. That very plain little sheep was a very empathetic sheep but her end game wasn’t just to make sacrifices. Empathy can be very draining and become a prosocial stressor itself. Remember the last page of the story? The bear is napping and all the other animal friends are playing cards. She found a way to stay socially connected to her friends. Everyone got what they needed. I’m finding that making small changes are making a big difference to help me self-regulate in these uncertain times.
Here’s what’s working to help me get unstuck today:
I’m looking for ways to stay connected to the people who lift me up.
I’m limiting my worrying about COVID-19 to the morning when I have more energy.
I’m finding ways to laugh and release the tension - all the crazy memes!
I go outside and walk, staying 2 meters away from folks of course. Physical distancing doesn’t mean I can’t make eye contact, smile and say hello. I still need to be me.
I shout out “Not today Corrrona!” rolling my r's along with with thousands of others each morning. (See Dr. Jody Carrington’s Facebook page)
I’m recognizing that the junk food cravings are a result of increased stress. But I don’t beat myself up about it, the junk food cupboard will soon be empty!
I’m finding ways to stay connected to my preschool little ones and get such joy from seeing the photos and videos we share.
I’m trying to make a video to send to my father who is in long term care. It didn’t work the first time. YouTube told me to relax and come back in a few minutes. It worked the second time!
I find solace in listening to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, our province’s chief medical officer. She’s smart, she’s calm and she makes me feel hope! (Notice how she never touches the podium, only the paper she holds. Our premier could learn from her.)
COVID-19 muck can be a hot sticky mess! It will likely take us all down into the dark, mucky LE/HT quadrant occasionally - maybe even daily. But it can’t keep us there! “NOT TODAY CORRRRRRRONA!!!!!”
Originally published on Julie's Blog: 'Julie's Self-Reg Journey' on March 26th, 2020. Please find the original blog post here