We were out on a bike ride today, and since we live at the top of a hill, it’s always tough getting home.
Usually I shift gears, pedal hard, and sweat a lot to get home. My heart pounds and I gasp for air and my muscles feel like they can’t go another inch and I generally feel like I’m going to die… but I tell myself the exercise is good for me, which is true, and I keep pedaling.
But today was different. Today I got off and walked my bike up the hill.
It wasn’t because I couldn’t make it up the hill if I tried harder. I just didn’t want to try harder today.
As I was walking up the hill, I didn’t really care what my neighbors thought. I was actually proud of myself. I knew I had chosen to listen to my higher self and what I really need for that moment. You see, I’m trying to be more gentle with myself, to stop pushing myself so hard and take care of myself better. For me, it was a day to just walk up the hill and be okay with that. The walking was good exercise, too!
Living in a pandemic is like living at the top of the hill. It shouldn’t be this hard to just get “home,” but it is. It shouldn’t be this hard to do basic things… like hold a job, go to school, get groceries, and spend time with family and friends.
But it is.
It is hard. Everyday the pandemic lingers, we are faced with unwarranted challenges. Our little worlds that have always been “safe,” and for many, decently predictable, are all shaken up. Safety and certainty are questioned in places they never were questioned before. It’s like living at the top of the hill. It’s hard to even just get home.
And we don’t know if we’re always going to live at the top of this hill, because we don’t know when the pandemic will end. So why should we put ourselves through even more struggles? Why take on extra unnecessary challenges – even small ones like forcing ourselves to bike up a difficult hill? Wouldn’t it be nice for something to feel easy right now? To just walk home… maybe even humming a little tune?
That’s how I felt today. I just needed to take a breath and for something to not feel hard.
My point is – there are things that we did pre-pandemic that we might not have physical or mental space for MID-pandemic. And that is okay when you are living at the top of the hill.
Living through a pandemic – just like any long-term crisis or trauma – is like living at the top of a hill. We can assume the hill will still be there tomorrow, and we’re going to need to develop some coping skills to get home to our truest selves when we feel like nothing makes sense. New ways of framing things in our minds.
I hear many people speaking about or writing about the pandemic, and for some, you can tell it’s truly the first long-term crisis or trauma they have lived through. I’m so glad for that. But I want to tell those people: You are going to be okay. You are going to find new ways to do life and think about life. And in the end, you really will be stronger – and probably much more sensitive to others going through long-term trauma.
For those of us who have lived through long-term chronic illness… long-term abuse… long-term racial oppression… and other forms of trauma… the uncertainty, the fear, the financial consequences, the unavoidable restrictions, and the helplessness that come with this pandemic are not new feelings. We have learned how to survive, whether in healthy or unhealthy ways. And you will, too. Welcome to a place many of us have been living in long before this pandemic began.
Welcome to the top of the hill.
Now we have to learn how to live here, on the hill, and how to get home to ourselves when we are shaken. We are learning to live in this “new normal,” as you call it. The first step is facing reality and accepting that this is our life right now. Accepting that the world is not healthy, and accepting that that is awful. It’s okay to feel those feelings. Do not suppress them; that will make things worse.
Some of the things we value have been taken away from us, without our consent or approval. Because of a virus. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.
So we are going to have to dig deeper into our value systems and remember what’s most important to us, at the core, and live out of that. It will look different from before. It could look like living each day more fully… working longer hours in health care… finding new ways to express care when our smiles are hidden… speaking up about what’s important to us even when others disagree… finding more pleasure in simple hobbies… or being more intentional about Zooming with friends.
I hope it will look like learning how to take care of both our bodies and minds in a more conscious way.
The best thing we can do for our mental/emotional health is to focus on the things we DO have personal control over – even if they have always seemed insignificant before. Here are a few intentions that I like to focus on during long-term trauma. Feel free to borrow…
- I choose what I do with this day.
- I choose what goes into my body.
- I do everything in my power to provide for my family.
- I rest when my body needs rest.
- I stay informed so I can make wise decisions.
- I trust my intuition and do what is good for my family.
- I stay present and aware when speaking with my loved ones.
- I speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.
- I help others who are struggling by compassionately sharing my gifts.
- I let go of the choices of others.
These affirmations become much more powerful in our subconscious mind when combined with the inhalation of certain essential oils and blends. Recommended:
- Trauma Life essential oil
- Stress Away essential oil
- Joy essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Cedarwood essential oil
Now more than ever, investing in our emotional and mental health can make all the difference we need to handle life. I’m taking new clients now at Rise & Shine Aroma Breakthrough Coaching and would love to help. You are loved, and you will make it through this.
But most of all, I hope we all can give ourselves a break and know that some days? It’s okay to just walk up the hill. Everything is hard right now. And yet we’re doing it. We’re doing life in crisis.
We’re doing life at the top of the hill.