Got to admit that when I first read this list of “healthy coping ideas” in the Tolerance for Uncertainty Workbook, it all seemed so hard, I shut down the pdf and went back to skimming the internet.
It was kind of like looking up from a bag of chips and saying, hmm, I feel as though I should eat healthier snacks, and opening a resource that then started talking about calories, metabolism science, diet debates etc. TOO COMPLICATED!!!
This week, I shared about experimenting with taking a wine-break in order to develop some other supportive practices. The glass of wine was a habit that was very comforting and easy to turn to. It wouldn’t have been helpful to replace it with an elaborate complicated ritual. Or something that required a completely different energetic output, like going for a 10km run. It was something I turned to when I was at my lowest energy. That insight needed to be accommodated.
Now that I have built my tolerance for uncertainty a bit more, I have the capacity to turn to some more complicated practices – and by complicated, I mean ones that might enlist other people. (Stoicism runs deep. That’s part of the appeal of the wine, right? It’s a very self-contained moment.) Now, I’m more practiced at the kind of vulnerability involved in putting my earbuds in and calling a friend while the kid is upstairs watching his show and I’m prepping dinner. Or, asking my family to each pick a song that we can dance around to like hairy noonahs. (I don’t know what that actually means, it just sounds appropriately silly.) Or pulling out a pile of old magazines and ripping and tearing and making a little collage, instead of scrolling instagram for my glossy shiny fix.
In a conversation with a friend this week, we spoke about the stresses of this past year, and coping habits, and the old wine-story came up again. We got a bit giddy talking about the power of taking that moment, maybe once the kids are finally asleep, for your self. About wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket and sitting down with a glass. And we wondered, what if it’s as much about the cozy blanket, as the glass of wine? What if, at it’s heart, we’re really craving a bit of ritual. What if, we could layer on one or two or three lovely things, to the glass of wine, to make it more ritualistic – light a candle, wrap self in cozy blanket, plug in a podcast or reach for journal… and as that becomes a rich moment of self-care, we could experiment with pouring water in that glass instead… it becomes easier to pull away one of the props, because the others are providing enough support.
I feel very intrigued right now about the power of little rituals – especially given the evaporation of so many habits and traditions and fallbacks, this past year, as things closed, and routines changed, and traditions were paused. What was underneath those things? What need was served when I attended the morning gym class, or went for a coffee? As I looked for alternatives, it was always easier to replace the workout than to replace the feeling of community. It was easier to replace the to-go coffee than it was to replace the lovely ritual feeling, the feeling of pausing for something frothy and special.
I mean, if everything we know is falling apart, why not get curious and deconstruct our habits and patterns and dependencies? It’s kind of on-theme.
In the meantime, I’ve been brainstorming the list of “coping practices” that you can literally turn to when you’re completely exhausted, drained, down… Would love to hear any things that work for you. But this seems to be a good’un.
Legs up the wall.
Find a wall. (Don’t make it complicated. Any wall will do.) Crawl to it. Flip over, lie on your back and rest your legs up the wall.
If you feel as though you want more instruction, review this post: https://thewellnessalmanac.com/2020/04/14/restore-legs-up-the-wall-crystal-conroy-offers-a-free-audio-restorative-yoga-class-and-some-tips-on-how-to-relax/
You can make sure you’re cozy, in your pjs, with a blanket. You can put an eye-pillow over your eyes.
You can play this beautiful yoga nidra meditation from local yogi and momma, Crystal Conroy.
You can grow and deepen it.
AND you can just start by throwing your legs up the wall and taking a minute. The simple act of making this choice – to do a thing for yourself – to do a kind thing – helps reset the nervous system, helps build the toolkit, helps initiate a new habit.
So, yes to eating well-balanced meals. Yes, to the list of 15 healthy coping ideas. And yes to crawling over to the corner of your room and throwing your legs up the wall. Begin where you are.