Several years ago our family started seeing a therapist. We believe it’s good to get outside help, perspective and neutral opinions. We also had found ourselves unable to get past some of the issues that surround abandonment, adoption, brokenness and childhood pains.
During our first session, we learned about the Toolbelt.
This toolbelt would help us tackle life. A new tool for that belt was introduced at each session. We spent the hour learning how to use it.
The first tool and a family favorite is the”Do Over.” Karyn Purvis helped publicize this concept in her book, “The Connected Child.” Sometimes words splat out of our mouths before we have a chance to really think about their impact. The “Do Over” allows you to do just that, redo the thing that was not intended for good. It’s a simple tool; I’d liken it to the hammer. Just as the hammer is a simple, inexpensive tool, used to put something back in place, so is the “Do Over.”
The more we met, the more complicated the tools became. We moved up to the Power Tool row. For us, the big power tool in this group is EMDR. Here’s a link if you want to delve into it. In a nutshell, a person uses bilateral movements while focusing on events, words, thoughts that create trauma. This movement erases the emotion tied to the memory, making it manageable to deal with over a lifetime.
Tools are good things aren’t they? In order to function in our world, we need tools. Tools build houses and cars, they help us cook so we can eat. Tools like the fork and knife enable us to keep relatively clean while eating and provide ways to manage order. It is the same for emotional tools. Journaling and meditation, exercise and drinking water; these are antistress strategy tools to help with our physical and mental health.
As this pandemic lingers on, my stress toolbelt needed some additions. The daily weight of masks, social distance and hybrid learning was taking a dramatic toll on me; my sleep was disrupted, my emotional tolerance meter was spiking.
I went back to the stress management strategies I’d used in the past. I have been focusing on what I could control. Fundamental practices have been critical. I go to bed around the same time every night. I’m drinking more tea and less wine. I get up and journal first thing each morning.
For October, I added some new tools to my belt. Number one, yoga every single day. I have not allowed myself a day off and my sweet husband has informed me that’s been a good thing. Here are a few of my favorite youtube yoga instructors lately. Yoga with Adriene is a great place to start if you are brand new to yoga. If you are wanting to add strength, I love Baron Baptiste and his Lululemon flows. Cat Meffan has been on repeat on my home mat. She provides dynamic and strong vinyasa flows.
After reading Fiber Fueled, I’ve added greens, lots and lots of greens to my diet. Green shakes, green salads, greens all the time. When under stress, our bodies need extra care. For me personally, vitamins, herbs and fresh vegetables help tremendously with the effort to combat the assaults it takes on daily. I love this blog’s myriad of green shake recipes.
Regular hiking times with a dear friend have been such a balm to my soul. Almost weekly we meet, drive, hike and talk. I didn’t realize how much I needed a trusted soul to share the deep wrestlings of my heart. Social media is not the place to air all the heart has going on. I am so thankful for the time in the mountains with an honest friend who can handle anything I throw out in the air.
Date nights. While I still hate wearing a mask whenever I’m in public, I’ve decided my distaste for it is not worth denying the essential time I need with Matt. It is so important, especially in this time of mundane, to step outside the house, wear something requiring a bit of effort and breath together. Our weekly dates have been highlights for both of us; a chance to talk about anything besides the schedule, the kids or the basement remodel.
I’ve also taken a huge step back from social media. Instead I’ve sunk my teeth into podcasts; learning much while running and walking miles around my town. While I might have lost many followers, I’ve gained a much better sense of self. I love good journalism. A recent favorite series, Blindspot: The Road to 9/11 gives the cumulative back story to how 9/11 happened. It Was Said showcases some of the best speeches of USA history. I highly recommend listening to episode 1, MLK Jr, The Last Speech. If you need a break from current politics, I highly recommend Throughline. I just listened to The Electoral College and finally learned how our US election actually works.
I’d encourage you to consider what’s in your toolbox right now. Maybe you need to add to it. Or like me, you just need to fine tune your use of some of the simple pieces you thought you’d already mastered.