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Despite the fact that we are locked up in our homes and have been wrenched away from societal norms for the past six months, we are still constantly bombarded with messages to dump more of what we don’t need into the seemingly bottomless voids that we are feeling.
And seemingly, more than ever in this chaotic-upside down-backward situation we are living with.
Whenever I log onto social media, I am drowned in ideologies that cater to the fact that I am uncomfortable, and therefore should divulge in every whim and thought that may enter my mind.
Get drunk; get so fucking drunk.
Get angry; get so fucking angry.
Buy all the things, all the time.
Because you deserve it.
What do I deserve exactly? By continuing to spiral down a dark and hopeless pit by engaging in impulsive and unfulfilling behaviors, I am not improving my own situation or anyone else’s. What are we trying to solve for?
We are hurt.
We are lost.
We are looking around and saying to ourselves and each other, “This isn’t the world that I thought it was; these aren’t the people I thought they were. I am not the person I thought I was. I am out of control, and I hate it.”
We are vulnerable, and instead of acknowledging our wounds or pulling ourselves up out of the pit, we are digging ourselves deeper down, wondering where the light is.
Look forward; look up. Look behind you; look within you. The light is all around.
It doesn’t make everything perfect; it doesn’t make everything better. But we can’t control everything, and no one is expecting that of us.
Here are some small ways to make yourself more comfortable when you’re spinning out of control or just at a desperate loss of what it is you should be doing:
1. Go outside.
Not go outside and run for 20 miles. Not even go outside and go for a walk. Go outside for a few minutes—barefoot if you can. Feel the grass or the concrete or the wood beneath your feet. Look for the little things.
I get excited when I see a bee or a hummingbird, and I watch their rituals until they leave my yard. Look at the sky. Is it blue? My sky is finally blue for the first time in three weeks, so I am incredibly grateful for the sky and the sun. Sit down. Feel your breath. Listen to a lawnmower, or a train or passing cars. Remind yourself of how lucky you are to be alive, now, at this moment.
2. Clean your house.
This is something you can control—to some capacity. Get new cleaning supplies or make them if that’s your thing. Savor the satisfaction of a freshly wiped down countertop or a spotless mirror. Crumbs leaving the ground as you vacuum over them. A spot in the carpet that you’ve been meaning to remove for months finally gone, or at least less noticeable. Cat or dog hairs that have congregated in the corners of your dwelling. Gone. How satisfying.
Not sit down for half an hour and try your best to achieve nirvana. Make your day a meditation. Every time you feel your chest tense up, your mind beginning to spin out of control, anger for the many things we can be angry about, or just general dissatisfaction, take a breath. Pause. Ask yourself if you’re improving anything by coddling this emotion. Ask yourself if what you’re thinking is true. If it isn’t true, if it doesn’t serve you, tell it to leave. Move on. Even more so, if you’re happy, if you’re excited—notice. It’s important.
4. Use the snooze button.
Not on your alarm clock or phone. On your social media. Don’t just snooze people who you may disagree with and don’t want to hear from. Snooze people who you do agree with, but who are constantly posting content that isn’t helpful, that is meant to enrage or divide without a clear action.
There is only so much that we can take in, and only so much that is actually constructive or that we can take action on. Make this determination for yourself and act accordingly. If you can’t bring yourself to take a break from social media, this is the next best thing.
Journaling can take the form of writing on a napkin, a Post-It, or the back of an envelope. It can be pages or run-on sentences; it can be single words. I start my journaling with single words. Words that may closely resemble what I’m feeling. Sometimes sentences; sometimes half-sentences or trains of thought.
Just being able to identify what I’m feeling in a word or words helps to ground me. I often allow feelings to collect in the corner of my mind like the aforementioned cat or dog hair, and all of a sudden I am just generally discontent, generally sad, or generally angry, and I can’t shake it because I don’t know what it is or why it’s there.
Writing it out, identifying it, and working through it takes away its power. These feelings are not who I am. It is temporary. It will pass if I want it to.
There are so many more instances that we can create or notice that ease our false notion that we need more. Making rituals. Noticing silence or noise. Being intentional even in the mundane. Listening to ukulele instrumentals while washing dishes or folding laundry. Laughing on a work call.
And as we notice more and more, as we begin to fall in love with or at least find the magic in the small things that we already have and what we already do, we realize that we don’t have to fall into the trap that self-harm in the guise of impulsivity is the solution to our problems.
We don’t have to feel guilty or sh*tty or angry or hurt further by our actions entwined with our already chaotic situations.
We have so much. We are here.