This week two years ago we began our first Covid lockdown in Ireland., and so many of us discovered whole new levels of stress in our ives.I remember the fear and uncertainty and my unquestioning willingness to follow the directions from Government, so glad was I that someone seemed to be in charge. The strict lockdown rules, while an unwelcome constant source of stress, somehow also gave me, and others I think, an anchor, a way of feeling supported and steady in strange and troubling times.
Today is day fifteen I think of the invasion by Russia of Ukraine. Unspeakable stress and horror and amazing compassion and action unfolding and living side by side in every minute. As the invasion began I was thrown back to the Iraq war of 2003 when I was a student living in a high rise flat in Dublin, working and studying full time. This was the first time a war was televised, in real time in a way, so the horror arrived straight into our living rooms. I could not take my eyes off it. I watched hours of news coverage everyday – I was not eating or sleeping. I was paralysed. My younger self had no clue how to live with the reality of this brutal inhumanity being played out in my own living room. I was addicted to it, utterly paralysed by it, and full of guilt because I was some kind of intimate bystander.
From that awful experience, I have with time and maturity, moved to a place of engaged compassion, and I want to share here three things that will help you if you are feeling stuck or paralysed at the moment by what is erupting in our world.
1) Limit your exposure
Unlike the Dee of earlier years you can build your muscle of self regulation by deliberately limiting your exposure to news. I am not for one minute suggesting a head in the sand approach. We need to know what is happening in the world, but like the Dee of earlier years we will deplete ourselves, become overwhelmed, stuck, and fearful if we do not put our big girl pants on, and manage our exposure to 24/7 availability of unfolding, ongoing horror. I suggest, quality engagement once a day so you know what is going on. That is all. That is enough.
2) Empathy plus action
Watching, feeling empathy is just creating more torment for us if we are unable to help in some way, to take some action of support. That might mean taking up arms and going to the front, or to volunteer at a border crossing. It might mean providing sanctuary in your home for a displaced person or family. But here too it is easy to get overwhelmed, to commit to action that is not sustainable or right for you, and maybe to end up stuck in feelings of guilt about our ‘first world problems.’ Not necessary. Whoever you are, whatever your particular circumstances, you can take action to support Ukraine at this time. Organise a fundraiser, or contribute to a fundraiser. Organise a solidarity walk. Participate in a solidarity walk. Welcome refugees arriving in your area – smile and say hello, invite someone for coffee, offer some practical assistance….there are endless ways we can be of practical assistance, and engaged empathy, compassion in action asks that each of us finds our particular way to express our humanity at this time.
3) Gratitude and Kindness
Sounds naff to many, is undeniably evidenced by research and science, the separate practises of gratitude and kindness are powerful tools for impact at this time in the world. Grounding us, helping us to cope with extreme stress, and changing the energy in the world around us, there are a myriad of ways to engage in these practices. Let me suggest just a few:
* on waking or just before sleep name three things you are grateful for – better still write them down
* as you sit to eat express gratitude for the food you are about to eat
* as you fold your laundry take a moment to express gratitude for the ease and convenience you are used to.
Stress and gratitude cannot co-exist.
* smile at a stranger
* say ‘thank you’
* practise one random act of kindness every week/ every day.
Stress and kindness cannot co-exist.
As you build these practices – remember it is about habit, so you are looking to build an anchor through micro steps – too small to fail. Just a little something, done regularly will keep you to remain anchored and connected in a healthy and sustainable way. I would love to hear from you – what your thoughts are, how you are staying engaged and well, managing stress and thriving.
May you be well
May you live with ease
May you live in peace.
May all be well
May all live with ease
May all live in peace.
Why not create a pause for yourself with my one At Home Mindfulness and Self Compassion Retreat -a lovely long, resourceful pause, for you to do in your own time, in your own space, in your own way. https://mindfulfacilitation.com/courses/one-day-at-home-mindfulness-and-self-compassion-retreat/