I like to say “change is good, it is the transition that is difficult.”
As humans we are incredibly adaptable creatures. We are, after all, a part of the ever-changing, constantly in flux, natural world, as much as we try to deny, fight against and try to control this reality. If we look to nature, we see examples aplenty of adaptability and the creation of resiliency through devastation. A fire rips through a forest and after the burn the vegetation returns, growing healthier in the compost created by the flames.
A wind storm uproots trees and, in the process, offers the opportunity to smaller plants in their canopy to now experience greater light and oxygen and grow up to replace them.
Animals experience sickness, death and surrender to the cycle of life.
All this to ask you to look back on your past 9 months. This period of time since March 2020 and the coronavirus was first identified as a new, often considered unwelcome, guest that moved into our neighbourhood here in Saskatchewan. Think of all of the things that you felt you weren’t going to be able to handle, and that you did! Working from home, taking an online yoga class (and actually enjoying it!), learning to visit from 6 feet away, having to wear a mask every where you went. This is evidence of how adaptable we are and how we can healthfully move through any situation we are faced with when we can adopt a mindset of surrender. This is not to say that on the road to acceptance of our new reality there might not be the need for some (or lots) of sadness, fear or anger (or a wild combination thereof), as healthy transition does necessitate the honoring of the natural normal feelings of grief as we let go of the old in order to be able to welcome the new. Working through the stages of griefas identified by Elizabeth Kubler Ross (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & finally Acceptance) are instrumental on our passage through to change. In this way we can greet change without the resistance that causes us to suffer.
We are able to relate to our new reality in a way that is healthier for ourselves and our nervous systems.
A really specific example of this in our current times that I felt called to speak to is the wearing of masks. I will say that this was likely the hardest part about this whole pandemic for me so far. I was okay with the isolation of the spring. I love my alone time, I do have a family so have the grace of having people around when I want them, I love nature and walking outdoors so I was able to roll with not being able to go to my gym for my fitness and yoga classes. I have a strong network of friends and family and as our bonds run deep connecting over the phone or via zoom worked for me. My work was able to continue and I was able to run my classes and see my patients virtually. I truly am blessed, not only with a great system of external support but also many inner tools that have helped me weather these months and come through with a decent amount of grit and grace.
However… masks have been my biggest challenge. I hated masks at first. I am still not a big fan of them. And may never be. But they are here, mandated, they are helping to control aerosol spread of the virus, they are important tools for allowing us to continue on with a semblance of normal life. So, for my own benefit I am making peace with them. Of course, I have had to wear them in the office for quite some time. That hasn’t bothered me so much as it has to wear one when I go grocery shopping or out in the public. The biggest kicker for me was when they were mandated for indoor exercise classes. At first, I went into total panic mode. How was I going to work out like I like to – intensely – wearing a mask? I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in my past, notably my late teens/ early twenties when claustrophobia was one of my triggers. When I first put on a mask to work out, I was taken right back to a huge panic attack I had standing in the middle of a very crowded Rider Fan bus when I was about 20. Trauma! I quickly reminded myself of how I had overcome this panic in my early 30s by going into sweat lodges. The ultimate potential trigger for panic: small, cramped, pitch black, hot, no exit to access… I used these experiences to train my brain to be fully present and regain control over my body, my thoughts, my breath and thus to shift my reality back to the present moment where I actually was not in any danger. I learned from these experiences that mindset is everything and it is our thoughts that create our suffering. With repeated mental training and practice I have been able to get through the anxiety and panic that I have experienced in my life, leaving me more adaptable and resilient. Victor Frankl and his book Man’s Search for Meaning have been a huge influence on me in this regard. If he can use mindset to not just survive, but actually thrive in a concentration camp then I surely can learn a thing or two of creating my own peace while simply wearing a piece of cloth over my face.
I do know it is “easier said than done” but that is why practice and repetition, working on releasing past traumas and working with good therapists, naturopathic doctors, energy workers, etc. are all so helpful as we gain tools when we seek professional support.
There are other fabulous tools that I use both personally and professionally when dealing with anxiety, some of which I will include here as I know we are all in this same boat, needing some good nervous system support:
- Regular daily exercise, especially outdoors;
- Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, especially those containing wheat/ gluten, minimizing caffeine, reducing dairy;
- Eating lots of fruit and veggies and whole grains like rice, oats, quinoa and good quality protein like humus, chicken, fish;
- Taking a good multivitamin-mineral, fish oils, vitamin D daily;
- Supplementing my nervous system with balancing herbs like Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Siberian ginseng;
- Taking time for self-care: reading, long baths in Epsom salts, meditating, journaling… every single day first thing in the morning I spend some “soul care” time.
And specific to making peace with my masks I have come to love using essential oils to spritz the inside of them, making my mask wearing experience delightful! Some of my favorites include:
Lavender – when I need to relax and zen out;
Lemon/ grapefruit/ orange – as antimicrobials to help keep bacteria and viruses at bay and also because these are stimulating and awakening to the mind;
Mint/ eucalyptus – these ones are great for helping to increase breath/ oxygenation so fantastic if you feel like you have a tough time breathing with a mask.
There are some great blends available through shops like Sage and through companies like Doterra and Young Living. So, experiment with blends that you like and create your own. Giving a little spritz to the inside of your mask several times a day will completely change your mask wearing experience.
And if you like what you read here and want any mind, body, spirit… or essential oil.. support for your health, please reach out! I would love to work with you.