For nearly three years we have endured levels of stress, uncertainty, and fear in unprecedented amounts. We quickly became familiar with mask mandates, sheltering in place, social distancing, and a new virtual life. As we’ve familiarized ourselves with these new terms that shape the way we live, we’ve settled into entirely new ways of being.
We’ve had to adapt and create up-to-date methods that protect and support us, our loved ones, and our communities at large. Amid the lingering and lasting effects of the pandemic, we are now faced with new conflict, unrest, fear, and uncertainty.
Our bodies and minds often interpret the experience of uncertainty as stress, and the truth is, this amount of prolonged uncertainty creates unfamiliar emotions that we haven’t had the chance to feel or understand yet. We’ve done all that we can to remain adaptable and find ways to cope with the realities we’re faced with.
Amid the moments of nurturing ourselves and trying to sort through all of our experiences there has been a consistent, underlying feeling, maybe stress, guilt, dread, or sorrow. This feeling lying beneath the surface is probably not just one singular experience or emotion, it’s more likely a multitude of experiences happening all at once. Our ability to decipher, name, and understand each experience is a crucial part of our well-being during these times.
As we continue to navigate the state of the world today, we may find ourselves feeling helpless, hopeless, and not knowing where to turn. It’s critical to our collective well-being that we remain informed to understand how we can support the communities facing the most harm. And, simultaneously, we must remember that in order to show up fully for those we desire to support, we must also show up for ourselves with the same intention.
As we create space for ourselves to be supported, we can show up more fully and with sustained commitment to the healing of those we seek to help.
Identify Your Experience
During times of any heightened experience, we go through vast ranges of emotions at a rapid pace. Especially now, we are experiencing a rage of unfamiliar emotions blanketed by grief and the anticipation of continuous grief. David Kessler, the author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, said “Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”
As we try to cope with the intense emotions bubbling to the surface, there are practices we can engage with that offer some sense of peace amid the chaos.
Naming your experience, more specifically, the emotion that you’re most presently experiencing, is a practice that can help you begin to take your power back. This is where we step into the space of acceptance which is where power exists. We are powerless and at the mercy of our emotions when we cannot name them because if we cannot name it, we can’t possibly form a practice that will help us move through it. Without the willingness to name the emotion, to be vulnerable and truthful with ourselves, we won't find peace in any large or small capacity.
Practice: Identify and articulate your feelings and emotions with specificity as they arrive. Try to avoid using blanket statements that allow the emotions to linger beneath the surface. Address each emotion with courage and intention. From this place of new understanding, you harness your power and can begin to create practices that allow you to recenter and reground.
This practice in getting specific can also create connection to those around you. You might start to see that you are not alone in holding what you are holding.
As you practice checking in with each emotion remember to honor the vast spectrum that exists – from grief, fear, sadness, to gratitude, love, joy. All of these emotions are worthy of being seen and honored in their fullness.
We’re inundated with information from every angle at nearly every moment of the day. Some of that information is going to activate us or allow a certain emotion to come to the surface. If we aren’t aware of what activates us we can find ourselves operating from a place of heightened fear even through the most mundane daily tasks.
We are constantly being communicated with from an internal space. Everything that we interact with creates an impact on us and each experience we have provides more information. As you tune into each new piece of information you can create practices that offer a reset when you are feeling stuck in an activated state.
Practice: Notice what activates you. That might show up in the form of agitation, frustration, or visceral emotion that lands somewhere in your body. Try to practice noticing that. What sparked the activation, did it bring on sadness? Anger? Frustration? When you feel these heightened emotions take time to notice and honor them. Offer yourself a reset; focus on your breath for a few minutes, take time to step outside, give yourself permission to rest for a moment.
Become clear about what you are consuming and how much. Staying informed is necessary and boundaries are also vitally important to create sustainability. Remember that your wellness matters. When you find yourself feeling burnt out, overstimulated, and overwhelmed by what you’re consuming from media, news, people around you, give yourself permission to pause. Let your mind rest, breathe, and reset. Cultivating a sense of balance is a key part of your ability to show up for yourself and for those around you.
Be of Service
Finding ways to support and serve the communities that need it can offer us a sense of purpose in uncertain times. We are all responsible to one another to create sustainable collective well-being. When we need support, we lean on those around us and when we have the capacity to offer support we can let others know that it’s their turn to lean on us.
Especially in moments where helplessness or hopelessness set in, seek out a way to offer your services and support. Start by making a commitment to learn what the communities' needs are and from there, take action. Somedays action might be signing a petition, somedays it can be reading an article, donating money, or showing up physically somewhere to support those you seek to serve.
- When we take time to learn and understand the actual needs of a community, rather than assuming need, we can more effectively show up for them in a way that has a far greater impact.
- As you gather information, remember to be mindful of the sources. Learn from the lived experiences and stories of the community you are trying to serve whenever possible. Seek out new funnels of information to expand your view.
- This doesn’t just mean money, though if you have the capacity that is always a wonderful way to support.
- Seek ways to donate time, donate resources, offer space on your platforms and in your own communities to bring more and more awareness.
With all the ways we can receive information today, staying informed has never been more accessible. In one way or another there is always going to be something new to learn about and support, stories don’t always make it to the headlines, yet they are still important and worthy of being uplifted.
Make time to learn about something that you’re personally passionate about and see what you can do, how you can show up for change. We are all worthy of healing and it is our collective responsibility to honor the healing of ourselves as well as those around us.
Read more about what you can do to support the Ukraine.
If you have capacity, donate to support the Ukraine.
- Heart to Heart International
- The Coalition to Support Black People in Ukraine
- Humanity & Inclusion: Ukraine Appeal Fund
Read more about what you can do to support Transgender Youth in the US.
- Here’s All the Anti-Trans Legislation That Moved Forward This Week
- How to Support Trans Youth in Texas
- Get the Facts Discrimination Against Trans Kids
- Florida House of Representatives Passes “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” Bill
If you have capacity, donate to support Transgender Youth in the US.