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Please Be Good to Yourself During This Crisis

Stay safe, find peace, and be kind.

Konnie Fox with permission
Source: Konnie Fox with permission

We know that this time in our lives is stressful. We know that this is unprecedented and we are all struggling. The obvious struggles are always in front of us: safety, money, loss of contact, big and little choices with no easy answers, health, and more. You know what your challenges are and they will show themselves to you, sometimes in frightening and dangerous ways.

Of course, you will respond, as best you can. This is the bear in the woods. Give yourself credit for standing head-to-head with the many terrible situations you may be facing. You are showing up, with all your resources, and doing your best.

Please notice, as well, the ways we may be experiencing this time that create equally difficult, though less obvious, struggles. We face these, too, and when we are aware of them, like that bear in the woods, we can address them with equal courage.

We are more tired, more confused, more irritable. Anxiety plagues us daily, hourly, sometimes minute to minute. Sleep is harder and we have less energy even when we sleep. We recover more slowly from every setback: physical, emotional, and mental. Our memories are not as sharp as they have been and we notice this, with lost words, missing facts, and sometimes embarrassing lapses.

Our bodies are on high alert. Every ache is a threat. Every cough an alarm. Our breathing may be shallow, fast, just a bit panicked. The very air we breathe, keeping us alive, carries, as well, the potential to harm us. And how do we protect ourselves and our loved ones? We ask this regularly. From truly important issues, like protective gear, food, safety for our children, to the passing terrors of "not enough toilet paper," we are plagued — by a real plague and by how we are caught, internally, in our own fears.

Breathe deeply and slowly for a minute. We must be kind to ourselves. We must take care of ourselves. We must love ourselves, with every mistake we make. We must relax our flight-or-fight reactions, to give our bodies a chance to settle.

It will help our immune systems. It will help our psyches. It will help our souls, our loved ones, our world. Take another deep breath. Please. We must still do everything we can to stay safe and protect those we love, but let's see if we can do this without creating the collateral damage of stress, fear, emotional isolation, paralysis, or panic.

I know this is all easier said than done. I know that there are many who have few or no options. Chances are, if you are reading this, you have some options. Can you make self-care a priority, even in tiny bite-sized chunk?

Three deep breaths, one 5-minute, eyes-closed rest, a minute of mindfulness, a poem, a look out the window. The roses are still blooming. Will you stop to smell them?

My way of creating self-care will be different than yours. But you will know what is right for you, good for you, soothing and healing for you. And it will serve you, and refill the well that will allow you to care for others, be they your own children, the first responders who may need our help or the global community that is being asked to pull together, to face this together.

As the good Dr. Seuss said: "Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!" You are facing this difficult time and you are the one who will choose the ways to be, given the circumstances you are in. Check inside, during one of those deep breaths to center yourself into who you are and how you will move forward. It will not be easy for anyone. But let your path ahead, in these difficult times, be your path.

Please be good to you, whoever you are. It will help you be good to others. It will help us all.

May you be safe, find peace, and be kind, even in frightening times.

More from Dorothy Firman Ed.D. LMHC, BCC
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