When Life is an Emotional Rollercoaster
Where I live, in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, we’re thrown into a state-wide lock-down…again. It’s our fourth time to be locked in our homes. This time its only 7 days but after the 111-day “stage 4” lockdown in 2020 – which rode on the back of 8 other weeks throughout the year - the effect on the population is palpable.
Besides a handful of reasons, the most of us can only leave home for 2 hours of exercise or food shopping within a 5km radius. Most shops, restaurants and cafes are closed. Schools are closed. Most of us can’t go to work. Life is on hold, again.
At the school I work in there were collective moans about having to prepare on-line teaching, again. About cancelled classroom plans and the struggles with technology. Children were anxious about being home alone all day, again. Staff living alone were dreading the loneliness too, again.
News came through during the day too that people were panic-buying toilet paper, again! (I quickly did a mental stock-take of our pantry supplies signing with relief, this time we have enough, phew!).
It seemed we were back on that emotional roller-coaster, again.
Did I mention that interstate travel plans were on hold too, again? Yep, Australia stands united unless there’s a COVID-19 outbreak somewhere, then the state boarders get slammed firmly shut and it’s each state for themselves. Even at our one school this meant hundreds of dollars down the proverbial drain, again, for those who had to cancel travel plans.
Anton & I had also planned to go interstate. We thought we could make a mad dash to cross the border in time till the other state closed the door earlier than expected an hour after we’d sorted Plan B.
We’re about to embark on a huge adventure and were exploring the land, so to speak, before heading north. We’ve both quit our jobs and moving to an area in Australia we haven’t even visited (yikes!)! Sometimes I think we’re crazy, certifiable even, but mostly I’m just plain stressed!
Each evening I feel this massive knot in my gut as I cook dinner. I guess it’s the accumulation of all the things I’m thinking of, and not ready to think of, during the day.
Things like, we can’t find somewhere to live. Like, all the things we have to finish off in the house – that we haven’t finished renovating yet (!) – before we sell. Like, Anton will be leaving to go up north to start work and I have to stay here with the boys till we sell the house. Like, will my business survive the move? Like, will our 18-year-old find new friends? Will I find new friends? And on and on it goes.
My mantra at times like these has always been “I can do this! I can do this!”, which I repeat to myself over and over throughout moments when I feel like my stress levels are really about to explode. “I can do this, I can do today!” I say to myself when I get out of bed. I figure if I manage today tomorrow will take care of itself, I just need to do today.
I’ve noticed that I’ve also adopted this funny way of deep breathing. I find myself puffing away like a steam train, at times! Plus, I find every possible moment to take a few long, slow deep breaths just to recalibrate and slow my fast-beating heart rate down (the loo being a favourite spot to breathe). Thankfully it really work!
I’ve noticed too that I need to keep moving, one step at a time, each day. There are days when I just want to curl up on the coach and binge-watch movies. There are days when I feel like I’m frozen, there’s so much to do so I just can’t start. But I force myself to do something, anything, each day, just to keep moving forward.
I used to remind my kids with this saying, when they were small and had to do a huge task (like tidying their room!!) “How do you eat an elephant?”, “One teaspoon at a time” they’d chime back. Well, I’ve decided this is one HUGE elephant and I only have one teeny-tiny spoon so I’d better start eating. (Bit of a gross saying when I think about it!)
I must say I had a bit of a chuckle to myself too this week. I had a corporate workshop on stress, I have just completed a session on the positive effects of deep breathing in a workshop and I was teaching all the students at our school about “optimism” and how every cloud has a silver lining. The irony of this is not lost on me – I get to research and teach exactly what I’m needing at this time!
Do you know what the best part of that is?
I’ve discovered, again, that mindful practises really super effective during times of stress!
I have firsthand experience now that the negative effects of stress are reduced when you have practised mindfulness for an extended period of time!
I am also more aware of the effects of stress on my mind and body and how it feels and then I know what I need to reduce those effects. I find that really empowering.
I share all of this with you in the hope that you too can find the freedom mindful practises can bring you when your life is on an emotional rollercoaster.
I’ll keep you posted in the coming weeks and months how it’s all going for me but remember my friend, it’s never too late to start a mindful practise. A practise is never too short or too insignificant. Any aspect of the practise that you take up is beneficial and oh, so welcome when you need it most.
If you feel you can only manage to squeeze in a few pauses in your day to breath slowly and deeply, then that’s enough for now. If you can pause for those 10 minutes of meditation then that’s enough. If it’s reaching out in kindness to a stranger to have you thinking of another and not just yourself, that’s enough. If it’s pausing each night to be grateful for all that you have and able to do that day, that too is enough.
We need not make mindfulness complicated; it easy after all.
For those of you who are in lockdown, again, stay strong, find the Peace that you need in each day. That anchor that will hold you firm when the sea of uncertainty around you is raging.
Let us all keep up with the slow, deep breathing, with the kindness, with gratitude and allow those around us to enter into calm as we all ride this emotional rollercoaster that Corona has brought to this planet.
Much bliss to you!