Change, coping, and more change

Last week, April 1 seemed far away. Kellen and I could not quite wrap our heads around closing the clinic until then, and I felt the strangeness of holding phone sessions with folks who are just a mile or two away.

Today, one week from April 1, so much has changed. North Node Clinic will remain closed for in-person appointments until April 24. I am finally getting on the bandwagon of setting up secure teleconferencing. People have died and are dying from COVID-19. 

Kellen and I find ourselves, like many of you, I know, needing reminders to put down our phones and direct our thoughts to something other than the fear spiral. I am not advocating for ignorance, denial, distancing from facts and information. I am advocating, as always, for knowing our limits and honoring them.

I want to offer a few techniques I have been using to find my limits and honor them. Certainly try out any that resonate. Remember, though, that YOU KNOW WHAT FEELS GOOD TO YOU. Even though that changes all the time (because you change all. the. time), you still know better than I do, better than any blog, better than any self-care list anywhere, what brings you perspective.

First, two I know you’ve heard. They really work for me.

  • Setting time limits on media consumption: I read no more than 20 minutes before breakfast, no more than 20 minutes before dinner. NOTHING after dinner; I have enough trouble sleeping already, thanks.
  • Being diligent about choosing the media I consume: I only read; the voices on the tv grate on my nerves like little else on this planet. I do not click on links if I am not prepared for the headline itself or for the bias of the publication. All writing (tv is written, too) is biased. It’s not bad (or avoidable) to have a bias. And it’s not bad to choose what biases you admit into your space.

Other techniques I’m working to use include:

  • Walking outside every day without my phone (thinking about and noticing spring has been helpful these past few days)
  • Watching feel-good tv: I love suspense and crime tv and I am NOT WATCHING THAT RIGHT NOW. I’ve got plenty of cortisol and adrenaline, thanks. I have enjoyed a couple binges (over two hours), and my show of choice right now has 22-minute episodes, so I have also enjoyed quick breaks before doing more dishes (see below)
  • Eating meals on my regular schedule: I love food, I love thinking about it, and I love eating. One of my longtime pleasures on days off is to eat two breakfasts and then random food at 3 or 4 and then dinner if I remember. I’m not doing that, now. Even on days when the vibe is laaaaazyyyyy, I am eating breakfast, tidying the kitchen, then eating lunch nearish noon, tidying again, and having an actual dinner before 8pm. (I feel like I need to say that there are snacks in there, and lots of tea.) It helps me feel grounded in my body, and it is one of only two routines I am managing right now. The other is…
  • Going to bed on my regular schedule: I’m not sleeping on my regular schedule. My sleep has been messed up. I’ve been sleeping less and I’m grumpy because of it. I am lucky to have some great herbs that help me get sleepy and conk out, so I’m using them and getting in bed at my regular time, which, every night, has helped me believe, “Tonight, I’m going to sleep all the way past dawn!” That little moment of faith at the end of my day is worth a lot to me.
  • Breathing intentionally: I practice breathwork every morning and, lately, many evenings. I’m happy to talk with you about breathing practices you can try out. Hit me up. If you want somewhere to start today, try this. It is only 90 seconds long, so you can watch it once and then practice along. This can be practiced seated, standing, or, if you want, on your back.
  • Journaling, two ways: As many of you know, journaling is my number-one. I can tell I’m struggling when I sit down in the morning, and the page stays blank. This week has been a particularly blank one, so
    1. I’m focusing on writing down the worst in order to get it out of me. I don’t elaborate a ton. I make lists of what could happen, what I fear, what pisses me off. I don’t write to tell the story of my mind; my entries are pretty obscure and code-sounding. Some of what I wrote last Friday doesn’t make sense to me now. This is fine: I don’t need to remember what was going on in my psyche on Friday. The goal in my journaling right now is to make myself look at the worried, scared, disappointed places that so many parts of me would love to avoid. 
    2. If you are finding yourself swimming around in those same places my mind works to avoid, you could make yourself look at the other places of your soul. No matter how bleak things feel, there is always brightness inside of you (perhaps hiding real hard). Consider making lists of what signs of spring you notice if you are in the northern hemisphere, or lists of what you love about spring (or winter or whatever). You could track how many times a day you laugh or cry during your tv time. You could record your mood in color and record a separate color you love even though it doesn’t represent your mood. This could be two stripes/day, two pages/day, an Agnes Martin-inspired notebook…It could be whatever comes out of you.

As these days progress, Kellen and I wonder about your wellness more and more. If it sounds good to you, would you reach out and let us know how you are doing? Please know that we are sending you comfort, strong qi, and springtime.

With love,

Ellice and Kellen