What do we do when a problem has no solution?
Many of my clients, at some stage during their care plan, will tell me that they are “excellent in an emergency.” They are focused, clear and act in a way that impresses so many around them. They can rally in the darkest of hours, pull out gargantuan strength, clarity and insight. They say the right things, extend themselves and become a pillar of strength for those around them.
Then, wether they recognise it or not, there is a crash, a recovery state, a need to go within and reset.
Herein lies the problem. THIS emergency state is ongoing. We have no end date and the waiting is causing depletion. These people have been running on adrenaline for much longer than any “normal” state of disaster. This is the difference between an emergency and a pandemic.
So, round one, the emergency siren sounds. These incredible people have done all of the things. They have rallied you, they have kept your head above water. They have been your sounding board, your motivator, heck they have probably fed your family at some stage too! They quietly go you all through!
After lockdown 1.0, life went back to a new normal…… for a little while.
Then we went into lockdown 2.0 and something changed.
It was different when we were all in this together. The country felt united.
Now our state feels like the naughty cousin, consistently portrayed by media that we are not doing enough. Over exaggerated stories, heck, sometimes they are completely out of context. Constant looping on the news about our current state. Massive numbers and sensationalised issues that have turned communities against each other.
Again the “excellent in an emergency” people will step in, soothe those who need it, the marathon isn’t over. They use all of their reserve to march forward, to regroup and again inspire others to do the same.
There is little reserve left!
Now the “excellent in an emergency,” the glue that hold us together, are in complete exhaustion and overwhelm. They are feeling heavy, tired and helpless, they can not explain why they feel this way and they begin to blame themselves as they can not understand what is going on.
-Just in case you do not manage to finish this article, I want to get the message out now- please check on your glue. That person who got you through the first time, just check in.
What you don’t know is that during the middle of the last lock down, they felt exhausted, sad, mad and all of the emotions in between, they just didn’t tell you. They process AFTER the crisis is over. You hit your sweet spot and they disappeared, right! Please check in on them.-
Why do the “excellent in an emergency” people feel like this?
This can be explained as a stress response. That surge of chemicals in the body that help you to get through, need rest and nourishment to reset. This has not happened. A new “normal” or baseline is created, this is known as allostatic load. As this baseline continues to increase, they go from a stressed state to stressed out and hit a physical slump. Depending on how chronic this problem is, it can take some time to recover. In my experience, this is often a major contributor to anxiety.
Part of this chronic burn out stage, is the unknown. In this case, many of us and especially these incredible crisis modifiers, are experiencing ambiguous loss.
What is ambiguous loss?
This is a form of loss that is unclear and lacks resolution, in this case a loss of “life as we know it” for the unforeseeable future.
Its the simple things, the ones taken for granted.
There is loss over no longer being able to hug a loved one, its been months!
Lack of contribution to a feeling of solidarity for a friend in need. Since an embrace is an unspoken connection from one soul to another, unwavering faith in “this is shit, I have your back.”
Loss of jobs, friendships or businesses.
Loss of freedom, structure and routine.
Loss of in person celebrations, commiserations and just hanging out.
These are all things that we are fond of, also not essential or final, so the loss feels ambiguous.
We are in limbo.
We are grieving.
So what CAN we do?
We can first check in on the glue!
Those people who are always there for you who have dropped off in the last week or so, they need a call. They need to remember that you have their back too, peel them out of their cave for long enough to disrupt their internal monologue. They need reminding of how important they are, how much you love them and to be offered assistance. (Thyey will say no, but they appreciate being asked!)
We can focus on building deep and wide foundations for our health.
This is still a perfect time to step up and actually do the things.
Last lock down, we baked, ordered in and stopped moving.
It will be spring soon, lets get a head start on clearing out the cobwebs! Lets commit to just a change or two and then build from there.
I have gone back to loading my day with veggies and a little protein, add in a little fruit, some bliss balls and I am back on track.
Movement- Get outside for that whole hour! Instead of feeling like you are only allowed out for an hour, turn it into, I must be out for that hour. Choose a new track to walk, pick up the pace or time yourself. Make it a little playful. When you reach a road, toss a coin to see which ay to go and see where you end up!
What are you doing that is fun or creative? Creativity doesn’t have to involve art. It can be cooking, refreshing a room, dancing. Anything that will help you to shift your energy.
Keep it simple, our mental health depends on it!
Build good practises even when it feels hard, trust me, you are worth it!
If you need to chat, I am always here!