The first rule of when you get yourself lost during hiking is to stop walking. The next is to take a deep breath so you can slow your mind down from racing. Only then can you begin to formulate an action plan. Finding yourself suddenly in an unstable time is very similar. You might have thought you were doing everything right, for it all to go horribly awry in a matter of moments.
Panic robs us of our abilities to think critically and objectively. It forces us into such heightened states of anxiety that we not only fear, but believe, the worst possible situation could occur. This phenomenon known as catastrophizing amplifies the normal triggers and limited beliefs, we bravely tackle every day. This is particularly true for those of us who have suffered traumatic events in our lives like sexual abuse.
As the world is currently facing panic due to the grips of Covid-19 we all benefit from strengthening our abilities to ground ourselves during precarious times. Please explore one or more of the following exercises to help you rediscover your sense of stability and reclaim your power to enjoy life as a thriver.
Exercise One: Reading
Find a comfortable place to sit alone and read the following passage by Rumi:
Journeys bring power and love back into you.
If you can’t go somewhere, move in the passageways of the self.
They are like shafts of light, always changing and you change when you explore them.
Write down the initial insight you gain from this poem. Next, read the passage and consider how unstable times are a period of awkward movement in our lives. Think about how these shifts are helping to bring about positive growth for yourself or perhaps society. You may also want to consider how this period of turmoil can be made more loving or will facilitate a greater shift of positivity for you. Remember darkness exists not because it is bad or evil, but because it is the absence of light. Light allows you to see areas in your life or your community that require more nurturing. End by focusing on giving yourself gratitude for being brave enough the explore all the dark corners of your life and having the willingness to grow.
Exercise Two: Create a Sensory Soothing Kit
When times get difficult, we are often compelled to revisit moments of our lives where we felt safe, secure, and loved. We crave feeling immersed in this warm bubble of comfort where it feels like our concerns are kept miles at bay. Drawing from a psychology technique called the 5-4-3-2-1 approach for anxiety management, which harnesses using our five senses to ground the anxious mind during a panic attack, we recommend a fun new take on self-care.
Begin by finding some time to think about how you use your five senses to soothe and comfort you during troubling times. Is there a smell that can instantly transport you to a place of happiness and fond memories? Do you find calling up an image of a beloved friend can naturally slow your breathing? Explore these sensations and how interactions with them make you feel afterward. Seek to establish at least one helpful practice you can do with each sense and purchase any items necessary.
Then place these items into a box or bag that you can pull out during times of distress. Here’s an example of what a box could look like:
· Scent: Candle that smells like cookies or a bottle of eucalyptus essential oil because it reminds you of that trip to Australia you loved
· Touch: A weighted or cozy blanket, or perhaps your old college sweatshirt.
· Sound: A singing bowl or chime, to remind you that you only have control over the present moment.
· Taste: A note to remind yourself it’s ok to treat yourself to your favorite comfort food or drink item(s).
· Sight: A photo of yourself where you feel truly one with the moment or feel like the best version of yourself.
Take this box or bag out any time you feel like you need to reconnect yourself to a place where you feel whole, comforted, and in control. You can revisit and edit your soothing kit at any time as your needs and preferences change.
Exercise Three: Pay It Forward
Often one of the best ways out of a difficult situation is to remember that somewhere, someone else is struggling and could benefit from your skills and generosity. Once you have finished attending to your immediate needs, think about a person, or cause, you care deeply about that you could assist.
Currently, the Covid-19 pandemic is providing both panic and an opportunity for reconnection. Consider setting aside a few hours each week, not to call your best friend, but the person who you suspect might be feeling the most alone or anxious. Think about texting a neighbor who might need assistance getting groceries the next time you are planning on braving the stores. Buy a gift card or donate to an organization you value. Remember, by spreading love and joy, we all can drive back the fear and anxiety caused by unstable times.
We at Survivors to Thrivers, are holding you and your loved ones in our hearts during this time of great upheaval. We extend you blessings of good health, peace, and hope so that you might continue to promote works of joy and healing in whatever ways you currently can. If you need additional support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email, social media, or the blog comment section. Not only are we on this journey to eradicate the shame of sexual abuse, but we are united in this battle against Covid-19 and the darkness it is fostering. Thank you for being a part of this loving, hopeful, joy-filled, and uplifting community.