If you’re human, chances are the current state of world affairs is setting off more than a few alarm bells.
Our reactions can look like a wide range of things:
- Clinging to the “rational” facts and berating those with more emotive responses
- Expressions of anger and outrage
- Falling down rabbit holes of fear
- Being unwilling to explore different perspectives on the situation
Maybe you’re noticing that in-between the rush to take care of kids now home full-time, manage your work in your make-shift home office, and fit in a daily walk around the neighbourhood — you’re a few notches more stressed, less able to sleep, more snappy at your loved ones, or using drinking, working, or Netflix-ing to numb.
As we individually and collectively navigate the path ahead, the idea of never wasting a trigger seems fitting.
To never waste a trigger means that these unprecedented times, as well as being tough, are an opportunity to pay attention to the stuff we normally get by with pushing down. When we’re in a heightened state of stress, it can bubble up or boil over — giving us no choice but to pay attention.
But what do you do with these troublesome feelings and reactions?
Start learning how to treat them as messengers, and give them space to be expressed.
Here’s a simple practice you can use to do just that.
Sit quietly, wherever you can steal a few minutes of alone time. Take three slow belly breaths, and start to bring your focus inward.
Notice the lay of the land inside your physical body, and tune into wherever the feeling you’re experiencing resides. Perhaps it’s a sharp twinge in your back, or a tense jaw, or clenching stomach. Simply sit with it for a while, focusing purely on the physical sensations. Notice, without expectation, what happens to those sensations. Do they get more intense? Shift or move elsewhere? Dissipate?
After noticing for a while, bring your focus back to wherever you notice the most sensation. It may have shifted, or it may remain the same. What’s the quality of this sensation? The energy of it? Perhaps it comes with a particular colour, image, shape, or word?
Enquire within, about what needs to be seen, and expressed here. Let whatever bubbles up, be present. Try not to let your thinking mind take over. Finally, name what you've been feeling, what you’ve seen, and consciously let it go. You can journal afterward if you'd like to make more sense of it with your mind. But this is not essential, as sometimes the body simply needs to open the release valve to make space for emotions to move through.
Resist the need to get this practice perfect, and try to release any expectation of outcome. Most of us are not taught how to process our emotions, and learning how to do it is a lifelong practice. Try it out next time you catch yourself feeling stressed, afraid, or upset.
Vicki Evans is a member of ICF Australasia and is currently working towards an ACC credential. She specialises in mind-body coaching for lasting change in topics such as burnout, chronic stress, perfectionism and self-belief, as well as non-profit leadership and resilience coaching. Vicki can be reached via www.vickievanscoaching.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.