How do you function and maintain creativity when the panic and fear reach out to crush your heart and push all of the air out of your lungs until you are gasping? How do you stand back up when you’re knocked to your knees by emotional earthquakes?
Over the past couple of months, my world has been blown sideways. A member of my family has been experiencing an increasingly worrisome series of health issues, with the news dribbled out in phone and Zoom conversations. Meanwhile, I’ve made this decision to transition to part-time in my day job, which is stressful all by itself. In the final week of January, as my sick family member struggled in the COVID ward at their local hospital, my computer began to make a loud beeping noise before turning off for good.
A coaching client and friend stared at me in amazement as I told her the tale of that last week of January. “I can’t believe you didn’t just cancel all your appointments and call in sick to work.”
As I caught another friend up on the news of my life, he said, “You seem to be holding up well.” I smiled, letting it touch my eyes over my mask.
The truth is, I’m holding up. Maybe not well, but retaining more of an up than a down. My mother would call it “muddling through.”
This series of unfortunate events builds a pile of uncertainty that keeps my world off-balance.
But life doesn’t wait for your world to stop rocking to continue on. The dogs still need to be fed and bills still need to be paid and plants still need to be watered.
So What Do You Do
Over the years, I’ve learned that we must continue moving along despite our tragedies. And the answer to how to do this—how to keep functioning, to keep creativity and commonsense riding with you on these terrifying journeys—is to respect yourself.
Respect your body by resting when you need, exercising when you can, and making mostly healthy food choices with a few indulgences to make your belly sing with joy. Get out and walk the dog, have a piece of chocolate, indulge in a bit of yoga, take a nap.
Respect your mind by doing a little meditation or praying, feeling stillness arise in your heart and soul.
Respect your spirit by dedicating yourself to experiencing your emotions. Find those moments of joy and let the laughter flow. Unleash the tears and cry ugly.
Respect your heart by reaching out to friends and family, sharing the horror and joy of your situation while also asking them about their journeys. Express your creativity and indulge in the creativity of others. Personally, I like to do this by casting on a new knitting design and watching beautiful television—gardening shows or spectacularly filmed stories or action movies with women at the center (though Lupin…Have you seen it? Yow!).
Respecting yourself and your needs empowers you to handle the situation with all the grace available. These actions support your movement through the stress cycle, keeping burnout at bay.
As we all deal with prolonged periods of heightened stress, making these positive moves strengthens us. They empower us to put one foot in front of the other, to muddle through.