What a month... Or has it been a month? Time seems odd right now.
The REAL Equestrian was born out of a desire for people to get real, get honest and be vulnerable. As a psychotherapist I’ve just seen too many people repress their emotions and end up hard, shut down, angry and/or depressed. Trust me, I know how lifeless that place is, I have been there. Shutting down and pushing away was a tool I learned early on. A coping mechanism that served me then, but only damages me and my loved ones when it surfaces now.
Humans are messy. We feel a lot. But for some reason we think that we are supposed to have it more together. We hide our fear, we cry alone.
And now here we are. In a world wide crisis. Both physically and emotionally. Truly, they coexist.
In the past few weeks I’ve seen so much anger thrown around at people. Judgments quickly surface as someone does or says something you don’t agree with. And to be honest, I am not surprised. Because underneath anger lives fear and sadness.
We are scared. And now, sitting alone in our homes, connection, the kryptonite to fear, is harder to find.
We are sad. We are grieving. Grieving for others losses, for our children’s “new normal”, and for the loss of what we once took for granted.
I haven’t done any writing since all this unfolded, partly because I have been focused on the farm and getting our herd healthy and strong again. The barn is my sanctuary, it’s a place beyond time, (which my husband has learned and now rarely asks how long I’ll be).
The barn is quieter, but besides for that, it’s the same. Everyday I get to wake up to kitties jumping on me, snug my dog (who only tolerates it), then head out to the big boys. Nothing has changed for them. Jiji will still stand at the fence calling for me, or more accurately, calling for food. Lucas and Kidd will argue about who gets the stall next to Jiji even though they are both petrified of his teeth. Charlie hangs back to see where everyone else goes and then finds a spot along the fence. Sometimes he’s smart and goes around back where he can eat in peace.
Their normalcy… simpleness, allows me to settle. Not a day goes by that I don’t say a prayer of gratitude for what these guys give to me.
I know, I can feel, that the world is in a tremendous sympathetic nervous system response. The fight, flight freeze or fawn is triggered for the majority of the population. It comes with the territory of being afraid. And afraid we are. Life as we know it has been altered. Uncertainty is pulsating through our veins.
Lynn Lyons, one of my favorite Anxiety clinicians, says “Anxiety wants two things, certainty and comfort” Well, right now none of us have either. So how can we practice feeling “ok” in the middle of this mess?
One of the worst things for our immune system is stress. Yup, that’s right, reading all the stats and numbers on covid-19, spending hours on social media scrolling through endless fear messages, is putting you at risk.
FACT- Ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases an array of hormones that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time. Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The way it does this is by triggering chemical reactions and flooding the body with cortisol that, among other things, decreases inflammation, decreases white blood cells and NK cells (special cells that kill cancer), increases tumor development and growth, and increases the rate of infection and tissue damage.
So… I guess I am finally getting to the point of this ramble.
In this time of uncertainty and discomfort, where no one has the answer and hugs are sparse... how can you tell your nervous system to chill out, to settle?
Here are some suggestions, and somethings to pay attention to: