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  • Writer's pictureAbi Sims

Life's Hard Lately. What Now?


Have you ever had a season of life where hard things keep happening, and it feels like you can't catch your breath? And then, when you get a moment to catch your breath, something else happens that sends you through the super cycle of a washing machine all over again?


Me too.


Hard things happen to all of us; none of us are immune. And even though we logically know that, that logic doesn't take away the heavy feelings, the grief, the apathy, the trauma responses, the stressors, the world continuing to turn and expecting us to turn with it.


That's what gets me the most: when I'm going through a hard season, I'd just like the world to stop spinning for a few hours because it feels like my own internal world has stopped. This is especially true when we're experiencing grief, whether that be the death of a person we love, the death of a season of our lives, the loss of job, a new move, or the diagnosis of an illness we never expected- - grief has a funny way of making our own world stop while the world around us keeps going. And somehow, someway, we're expected to keep going, too.


But what if there was a different way?

What if we could actually make space for where we're at in this season and not force ourselves out of it?

What would that do for us overall?

How would that impact our mind, body, and spirit?

What would it really look like if we took the time to actually be where we are, not where people expect us to be?


The Balance of Grief & Life Moving Forward

There's a difference between having a hard day vs being in a hard season. A hard day is typically just that: a hard day. Things might not go how you planned that day, you notice you have a lack of patience, and you might have a few emotional outbursts throughout the day. But when you lay your head down at night, you have hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and you're excited for the sun to rise the next day.


A hard season is when hard, traumatic experiences continue to occur, often within a few days or weeks of each other. These traumatic experiences aren't necessarily the specific event or circumstance, but rather how the body perceives the event. Typically, a sense of apathy can start to take over as you wait for the other shoe to drop, because shoes have been dropping every few days.


Although I haven't mastered the balance of giving myself space to grieve life as I thought it to be and a world that's continuously moving forward (and I probably never will master that because I'm human), I have learned and implemented a few self-care routines into my life that drastically help me move through these hard seasons with compassion, grace, and empathy towards myself. These self-care practicies have made a drastic difference in my life and are clinically proven to lower stress, regulate the nervous system, improve sleep and mood, and help you become grounded and present in reality. Because dissociating is our body's natural response to trauma (and it can serve a well-meaning purpose when necessary), it can become a maladaptive coping skill our bodies turn to to cope with any or all distressing feelings or experiences. Dissociating is when we sort of slip away from our current reality: we may start to daydream frequently, scroll mindlessly on our phone for hours, play video games, drink, do drugs, engage in sexual behaviors that are out of that person's norm, or self-isolate. Dissociation keeps us stuck in a perpetual cycle of feeling triggered, because we aren't actually processing the feeling or experience; we're numbing it.

What We Can't Digest, We Gotta Process

So, what does it look like to process really hard things, situations, experiences, and grief in a way that will help us, not hurt us? This looks different for everyone, but here are a three tried and true methods to keep us present with our bodies, our experiences, our emotions, and our realities. There are many more self-care methods that exist, but these are my personal top three that help me process any heaviness I'm going through and ground me in reality, while also promoting self-compassion, self-love, and kindness to my current experiences:


  • Meditation - Okay, I can't say enough how important meditation is to our overall health. Meditation is clinically proven to reduce stress, improve concentration and focus, enhance emotional health, improve sleep, and promote self-awareness. But in case you thought the benefits stop there...they don't! Meditation also provides benefits to our physical health, such as lowering blood pressure, enhancing the immune system, promoting heart health, reducing symptoms of chronic pain, and improving digestive health. There are even long-term benefits to meditating, such as slowing the aging process, developing a greater sense of well-being, and reducing symptoms of PTSD. Wild, right?!

    • If you're new to meditation, check out the Balance app in the Apple Store or Google Play Store. It's filled with meditation plans, singles, and sleep plans, too! And the best part is that you get your first year FREE, and you can cancel at any time before the first year is up with no charge. As a therapist, I highly recommend & endorse this app! Check it out by clicking this link: https://balanceapp.com

  • Music - You don't have to be a musical person to receive the mental health benefits of listening to or playing music. If you play an instrument, pick it up and play a few songs you enjoy for a couple minutes a day. If you sing, sing some of your favorite jams as you go throughout your day, or play some music on your phone! Music provides relaxation, relief from anxiety, depression reduction, mood regulation, memory enhancement, enhanced focus and concentration, emotional release, inspiration, emotional support, and pain management.

  • Go For a Walk - No matter the time of year or the weather conditions, walks are an amazing addition to add to your tool box of self-care ideas. Walking is clinically proven to lower cortisol levels, reduce depression, improve memory, provide relaxation, boost creativity, improve quality of sleep & reduce insomnia, promote mindfulness & stress resilience, provide natural light exposure, connection to nature, give a break from the routine of the day, prevent cognitive decline, and contribute to sustained physical and emotional well-being over time. So, put on your favorite podcast, audiobook, music, or enjoy the sounds of nature, and get out there!


Life is Still Beautiful; Look Around You

In hard seasons, it can be hard to see the beauty around you, I know. It can feel like you're searching far and wide just to find some tiny aspect of life that's beautiful, good, or even just okay.


I see you. I'm with you.

And I promise you even in the chaos, the uncertainty, the tragedy, the grief, there is beauty.

Don't ever stop looking for that beauty.

Even if it's the sip of coffee you had this morning.

Or the hot shower you took.

Or the warm weather.

Or the flowers sprouting through the sidewalk.

Or the birds you can hear from your window.

Or the smiles you notice on the faces of strangers.


The beautiful part about the world not stopping when tragedy strikes you is that the beauty doesn't stop, either.


You're going to be okay.

We're in this together.


 

At Root Counseling, we're here to help you process every season of your life while teaching you how to be compassionate, loving, and kind toward your experiences and yourself. To schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, you can visit us here.





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