Based on the current state of affairs, my dog is my closest friend; I don’t remember the smell of erasing a whiteboard; I’m in a loop of self-discovery and loss, and I’m wondering: is my introspection just me crawling into myself for shelter?
Like an arm coming out of a cast, my emotional capacity for dealing with people and the world at large is emaciated and weak from lack of use. But I must continue on. We must continue on… for our mental health, for feelings of independence and ‘success’, for the love of giving gifts—nice things. I see my friends and colleagues and many of them are shriveled like me. We are raisins in a box reminiscing about being grapes.
Let me share with you, my dear pruny friends, five practices I use to feel plump again—to channel inner strength through grounding practices—during challenging times.
- Explore a Countdown Practice: Close your eyes and take three deep breaths: open them and list to yourself five things you can see, four you can feel, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one positive observation (about yourself, or an accomplishment). When your body returns to a place of trauma or stress, this practice can help ground you in the present moment.
- Practice Supportive Touch: Place your hand over your heart, cup your hands together in your lap, cross your arms and give yourself a squeeze, or cradle your face in your hands. Research indicates that physical touch releases oxytocin, provides a sense of security, soothes distressing emotions, and calms cardiovascular stress. Don’t be shy! You may feel a bit silly at first, but your body will benefit from the comfort of supportive touch.
- Try a Drawing Meditation Exercise: Try the squiggles challenge in the eMakerspace. This exercise challenges you to find a sense of flow, intentionality, and playfulness. By setting your intention and going through the mindfulness practice, you can bring focus to how you want to be and create a sense of calm.
- Schedule a ‘Should-less’ Day/Time: Block your personal and professional calendar for at least one hour and commit to doing nothing (this is harder than it seems). By blocking time for ‘unproductive’ activities you recondition the habits that fill your schedule with only ‘productive’ activities.
- Generate a Success Log: Make a list of all of the things you deem a success from the day (Ex: got out of bed, put on pants before first Zoom meeting, completed a week-1 outline for my new course). Creating a list of successes guards against negative self-talk and self-judgments on productivity.
There is a world beyond the handful of self-renewal tips and practices listed here. Services such as support groups, counseling services, virtual fitness classes, open meditation spaces, and suicide prevention trainings are available at UAF and locally. Sheltering within does not equate to isolation. Stay grounded. Be well.
For more information on mindfulness and additional resources, check out our previous teaching tips: