As I write this, I sit looking out over the Atlantic on a warm, but slightly gray, gloomy day. I sit, searching the waves for the whale that has been teasing my island coastline for the last few weeks, but there’s no sign of him. I came to my beach today hoping to find some energy, a spark of inspiration, anything to bring me out of a week-long funk. But, there’s no sign of that here either. I’m very…tired? Unfocused? I can’t put my finger on the exact word, but I’m feeling very out of sorts.
I imagine others are feeling the same way as the holidays approach, and others have reported feeling this way for months, as this year of 2020 rolls out our patience, plays with our emotions, and leaves many of us feeling exhausted, helpless, and anxious. 2020 has been the year of needing self-care. Like no other year we’ve experienced, this year required an absolute sink or swim grounding, just to pass the days and weeks away. Early on, I watched social media as people baked bread, colored their sidewalks, and created ways to connect and lift others into some small ray of happiness. As weeks turned into months, people got busy figuring out, and carrying on, their “new normal”; schooling at home, working at home, balancing too much. And now, as winter and the long dark nights await us, we also face new or continued restrictions to round out a full year. Many people are exhausted.
I preach self care constantly to my clients, to my friends, to my family, and I practice it often to keep myself in a positive and balanced mood. I also approach my relationships, social media, and daily conversations as upbeat and positive as possible because I truly believe that it breeds more positivity-something much needed in 2020. So, when I found myself in a complete funk most of last week and this week, I was confused. Nothing I did helped. I slept more, checked my nutrition, dragged myself out for long walks, took days off of work to recharge, and even treated myself to a massage. My dark funk only deepened. I knew I needed to take some time to really evaluate what was going on, because I’ve been able to shake this off in the past with just a little rest and self care. So, I sit on this beach as the wind picks up around me, watch the waves, and just allow myself to think.
I realize that I’ve placed huge burdens on myself this year. I allowed myself to be the life-raft, if you will, to many, many people. I tried to be the beacon of hope, the ray of sunshine, the person who always listened and lifted those who were not handling things well. And, perhaps, in turn, It helped me to see through the confusion, uncertainty, and worries that this year has laid at our feet. It gave me purpose, and kept me focused as we all simply woke up each day and put one foot in front of the other. But, I think at some point, I just hit a wall. As a HUGE holiday person, I sat quietly and watched Halloween pass by with no children at the door…Thanksgiving brought only one of my four adult children to my table…And the idea of this “new normal” Christmas is rather tiring. I truly think my funk started with attempting to decorate the tree-I mean, who will even see it?? Now, as I write, I realize “I” will see it! And now that it’s up, the sight of it each dark evening really does make my heart full. And that, THAT is a little self love!
I also realize that, although I am a “strong” person who likes to project positivity and resilience to others, I am, indeed, also very sensitive, as well as quite human, and it’s OK to let my guard down on occasion. It’s OK to say, “Hey, I’m not OK!” It’s healthy to ask for help and simply say to the world, “I hit the wall, I’m in a funk. I need you to carry me for just a bit.” And, I prove this to be true simply by writing this blog post. 🙂
If you have found yourself feeling out of sorts as this crazy year draws to a close, I encourage you to take some time for extra self care. Treat yourself to a guilty pleasure, say “no” to the things that don’t bring you joy, be a little easier on yourself, cozy up and nap, binge watch, or read. Tell yourself that you deserve it-because you DO…Because-2020. Give yourself a break, allow yourself to feel your feelings and recognize them for what they are. Take care of yourself as needed, and don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, I need a little help over here!”
The mental health industry has coined this “pandemic fatigue”. The symptoms are anxiety, depression, sadness, and fatigue or exhaustion. Anxiety is the result of losing control, and feeling as though things we hold dear have been changed or even threatened. Depression can be a response to a feeling of loss-lost time, lost money, lost relationships, lost traditions. We have all experienced loss this year, to some degree, some greater than others. Fatigue or exhaustion can be derived from many sources this year-overworking, home educating, isolation, balancing out the constant stream of news and responsibilites that just seem never-ending. It’s important to have support, and also to know when it’s time to ask for help. Please, if you find that you are in need of serious help, contact a health professional.
Early on this year I read a beautifully written article about “what we were feeling”. In short, it summed it up as being grief. Grief over losses, grief over change, grief over lost control of many facets of our lives. With grief, comes many emotions, and you’ve likely seen them played out on social media this year: Shock, denial, anger, depression…The final stage of grief is acceptance. Perhaps, that is the stage we all need to allow ourselves to embrace as 2020 falls away from our calendars. Accept, and be able to move on, to a better year, full of possibilities and hope. Acceptance may be the best first step in your self care toolbox right now.
Other self care tools to help you work through the end of this year: breathing, meditation, a little extra sleep, being kinder to yourself with less expectations, spoiling yourself a bit, giving yourself a break, making sure your nutrition is balanced, getting some movement and fresh air into your day, and finding a bit more support in your life. To help with that, I invite you to join my little Facebook group for just this purpose. It’s free, there’s no sales, and it offers support while also offering self care techniques, food facts, recipes, and fun conversation. I’d love to have you join us as we enter into this brand new year. You can join HERE or search BeeWell Healthy Hive on Facebook.
It’s been a hell of a year. I think back to last New Years, with it’s fireworks and dancing, champagne bottle popping on the boardwalk, and a video of me, almost in tears of joy, anticipating the year to come with elation. I think back to mid-march, explaining to one of my out-of-touch-with-current-news children what might possibly happen in the weeks going forward (and realize now, I couldn’t have even imagined the reality that followed). I think back to all of the incredible challenges that were thrown into our lives this year without much warning, without much time to prepare. And I think every one of us deserves a huge pat on the back, a huge “well done”, and a huge BREAK. We actually made it. Here’s to a New Year!