I have been getting lots of questions about how to workout during shelter in place rules. A number of people have struggled feeling tired and overwhelmed even though they aren’t sick and not working out regularly. So many of us are off our routines. When we get off our routines our system gets off. This is our nervous system response to stress.
We often do not realize how much work our bodies are doing to manage stress. We feel like it should be fine, we should be fine. And … we are not. We are in need of more rest and support – even when things are not “that bad”. It is important to listen to your body and meet it where it is. Give it what it needs to be your optimal self.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get moving even when your nervous system is busy managing the uncertainty and stress.
Join Marie and I as we talk about how to manage social distancing and still feel connected during the COVID-19 outbreak, how to treat mental health with diet and exercise, and what it means to be the best you possible.If you haven’t heard her podcasts yet … check them out! She has amazing women talking about life and working to create the life they want to lead. I like to listen while I work out- these ladies are INSPIRING!! I always workout a little harder, thanks to their stories of hard work and success.
In this episode I talk to Stacy Reuille-Dupont, PHD. Stacy is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a licensed addiction counselor, and a certified personal trainer. Stacy incorporates Psychology and movement to help you get results!
In this episode we talk about her fitness club burning down, how to manage stress during covid-19, and using movement to improve your mental health!
Ever learned how to surf? Surfers will tell you it’s about being patient and accepting the ocean just as she is. You have to be present to the moment if you are to be ready. To ride the next wave as it changes energy and crashes to the shore you have to be open to accept what it is, as it is. Today we are looking at how to use self regulation to bring acceptance to the moment you are in, not the one you wish was happening.
Many people I see in my office are able to regulate themselves when things are going good. When things get challenging however … many struggle to maintain practices that keep them focused on what is working.
Many ask me how they are supposed to maintain hope when things are hard. It is a tricky dance between acceptance of what is and awareness of what is not wanted. Holding this paradigm in balance can help make sure you are focused on what is working and what needs to be changed. This can be a tough balance to find and relies on maintaining enough self regulation to help yourself be present to what is, just as it is.
An easy way to remember how to care for yourself is the acronym HALT. Are you:
If you are any of these things you will be more irritable and struggle more relationships and completing daily activities. As you work on taking care of yourself, making sure these areas are covered goes a long way toward helping you handle difficult situations with grace.
Let’s break down each of the letters into actionable steps. It is here that you have power and control. You may not be able to change the situation you are in, however you can change how you are orienting to it and how you show up. Thus helping yourself accept what is, just as it is.
H – Are you hungry? Then eat. A nice balance of good fats, protein, and carbohydrate goes a long way to help you regulate your emotional experience. In its basic form, this is about taking care of physical needs, however, it can be about much more. If you have enough to eat but still feel hungry, what are you hungry for? What are you feeding yourself? Is it nutritious? Does it fill you? Think about not only the food you eat but the media, music, social experiences, physical spaces you find yourself in. Are they nourishing or do they feel depleted and bland? Take care to feed all of your senses well. Without nourishing intake you will feel empty and life will lose its sweetness. When those things happen we begin eating for reasons other than physical hunger.
A – How are you with your anger? Many of us were taught that anger is bad or violent. That is not true. Anger is only violent when you act out violently to discharge it. It is only “bad” when the results of your actions have created further complications (guilt and shame) to deal with. When we are suppressing anger it leads to all sorts of issues.
Anger revs up our inflammation system, thus we feel more body aches, joint pain, have concentration issues, memory problems, and heart stress. It wrecks havoc on many of our tissues because all that extra inflammation has no where to go. It cycles through the body looking for an outlet only to circle through the system again and again.
Emotionally suppressed anger often leads the despair that underlies depression. When you feel so trapped to influence anything well, the world looks pretty hopeless. I often coach people to feel their anger in little bits. This keeps it manageable,. As noted above may of us have seen and experienced negative outbursts of anger. Anger doesn’t have to be explosive, but it does need to move out. Anger’s job is to help you notice something unjust or when a boundary has been crossed. It is a catalystic emotion, one that makes change happen. It wants something done and feels better once expressed. It is in the expression mistakes of acting out are made in ways we are not proud of.
Learning how to gather the information and then make decisions based on the most effective expression of those emotions is called emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is something we all learn. Emotions are just here to give us information. Once we get the information and respond to them, rather than impulsively react, they dissipate.
L – Feeling lonely, even in a crowd. There is a great quote on the poster “How to Build a Community” it says, “no one is silent, though many are not heard”. Often we feel like no one is listening to us even when they ask for our thoughts. Many of us do not have someone in our lives who can deeply hear us, beyond our words and actions, but really hear what underlies our experiences. Sometimes we can’t even hear ourselves at this level.
Again on a basic level, if you are feeling lonely reach out to your support system. Get around people where you can smile and feel at least a little connected. Notice how you keep yourself disconnected when you are in a crowd. Do you go to the coffee shop and make no eye contact, wear your headphones, and make sure you are nowhere near another body? You might want to take off your headphones and try to make some eye contact, you can decide how close to stand in line, but paying attention to natural connections in our surroundings is a way to begin to reconnect the world. If you are feeling lonely in a crowd it may be time to start doing therapy to experience the sensations of being deeply heard or to learn skills to be more effective in your communication patterns.
T – Tired. This could be truly physical, you didn’t sleep well last night or it could be deeper and more extreme like I am tired in my being. If you are feeling physically tired, work to get better quality sleep by practicing sleep hygiene. If you are feeling tired in your being you might want to look at the emotional load you are carrying. Many of us are unaware of our deep sadness, anger, or fear, it has always been there. It may be something that was handed to us by our families and so we know it well.
Or it might be that life has been hard and you are weary of the burdens related to living or losing. In this case, relieving the fatigue is about taking a life inventory and beginning to get rid of that which no longer serves you, grieve what you have lost, and work to build positive experiences into your day no matter how small. Again, this may require the help of a professional and someone who can really support you through your process.
As you work to help yourself navigate changes in your life with grace, remember it is acceptance of what is that makes all the difference. It does not mean you have to like it, want it, or agree with it … but you do have to accept it is what you are dealing with if you want to shift.
By taking care of these 4 areas you are already moving toward being able to move through change with less disruption and strife.
Want to feel more regulated and in control of yourself? Remember: HALT
Hungry – feed yourself well. This included nutritious foods as well as everything you consume – media, social experiences, music, art, nature, anything you let into your body.
Angry – feel your feelings, notice what boundary needs to be set and take action in a productive way. Work to let it out a little at a time if it feels too big to do at once. Be patient with yourself. This can be difficult.
Lonely – reach out to a member of your support crew. Notice how you keep yourself separate and defend against connecting. Work to engage with your environment and others with more ease.
Tired – get some rest. Even a small break, short walk, or simple breathing exercise will help shift your mood. Get some sunshine. Sunshine is known to help raise energy levels. If you are feeling the heavy burdens of living life, get some support and help to determine what you can let go of and what to keep. Then learn new skills to cope with in more healthy ways that leave you feeling energetic not depleted.
How many of us are feeling the effects of trying to balance our lives while social distancing? In this post a good friend of mine outlines her experience parenting, while working from home, while worrying about the effects of the global pandemic on her children. I think many of us can relate on all sorts of levels – parents or not.
Guest Post By: Megan Murphy, LCSW
I begin writing some scattered thoughts after the third night of tossing and turning and waking up with a sore jaw and neck, from all of the things my brain must be trying to work out at night. I notice that mornings, I tend to feel strong and hopeful. I am noticing that afternoons are really hard, and my mind truly wishes it could download or shut down, sleep or reset.
I am familiar with anxiety and depression. I have dealt with these emotions at many different times in my life, and overall, I have been able to overcome them, or at least survive, cope with, and accept them in my life.
This has been a very confusing time for my mind, like it is, for so many others. My career as a Social Worker, who works with many vulnerable populations, including the severely and persistently mentally ill, has given me more strength and hope than I could ever explain in words. I have seen people survive and thrive in circumstances, I am quite sure I would never survive. I’ve seen the communities of the homeless, helping one another, and caring for one another. I’ve seen families doing their best to support their own, with limited resources, sometimes limited intellectual capacities, and very often, with judgment from the outside world. My career has taught me so much about resilience. I am so grateful for these clients and to so many people I have worked with along the way, who put their hearts, souls, and brains into this work. I have no doubt that the clients I work with, have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them. I THANK them to no end!
It has been heartbreaking not to be able to support these people face to face, to help get them the resources that they need now more than ever. However, I am grateful for a job that knows that keeping all of us (clients included) healthy in the short term, will only help, not hurt our mission, to help them in the long term. Or, as a wise man (thanks Dad) told me, “sometimes you have to stay in the fight, to win the fight”.
Parenting has been a whole different level of anxiety, acceptance, and resilience during this time. I have two sons, ages 14 and 9. We are beginning to work on schooling from home. I have so many worries about this time in life for them. For my 14-year-old, I worry about this time in his life. He is supposed to be working on independence, separating himself from his parents and working on finding himself. Peers are also such a huge part of learning and growing at his age. It’s so hard to tell him that we don’t have answers about when life may be “normal” again. It is so hard to say “no” to so many requests. I am so proud of him. I can tell he is frustrated and worried. It always seems that right when it’s needed, he invites his brother into his room to play games with him. He is an amazing human being. I worry about my skills to work and teach him from home, while also paying attention to emotional needs.
For my 9-year-old, I worry about his enthusiastic, open view of the world and an absolute need to connect, move, and be excited about life! Lately, he has denied every request to go outside on a walk. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I noticed he is anxious about it. “Is it safe”, “what if I see a friend on a walk”, “Can we talk to each other”, “am I sick”, “are you sick”, “will we all get sick”. “Are we safe”. While my husband and I do our best to reassure him, we don’t have the answers. He seems to feel best when saying, “family first, right mom”?
While these things worry me, I am reminded of how much gratitude I have. I do not have to parent without a partner. We are able to do this as a team and take turns when the other is feeling overwhelmed. So many do not have this and they are HEROES! Sometimes, I get frustrated with my own anxieties and worries because I am SO aware of the hard times others have and are experiencing. My life has been so easy overall. I have never needed for a thing, and have always had an abundance of love in my life. I feel guilty and ashamed sometimes that I have so much fear.
I have parents who give me strength. My father, a Vietnam marine, has this way of saying just the right things, to keep me focused and strong, during hard times. My mom, an independent woman, who has been a caretaker of many kinds, keeps me sane with love and constant communication and ideas of ways to keep myself busy. My brothers are both amazing and show me love and support, and I hope I do the same for them.
I have an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, who check-in, send me love, and inspire me.
I have friends that keep me grounded, strong, and grateful. Each of them gives me something so special and unique and I cannot imagine life, or this crisis, without them. We send each other videos, love, and ideas. Let me tell you, these are amazing women!
The lack of answers is what continues to be the hardest. I told my friend Jamie the other day, that while I am so aware that I am not alone, I “feel” alone. She said, “yes, we are trying to accept and process something we have no answers to, and only fear. We feel alone because we are not allowed to be around others”. That felt so validating.
So, for the moment, I plan to give myself grace. I plan to accept that some moments I will feel strong, and others I may not. I will do my best to show up for my family, friends, children, husband, and clients, with love, and understanding, that they too, will have good moments and not so good moments.
Understanding and owning your emotional experience is key to staying grounded in a variety of relationship patterns. From getting swept away with actions that may not be best for you to getting in fights and prematurely (or waiting too long) to end relationships, understanding impact and influence versus handing over your emotional power is key. Many of us avoid feeling our vulnerability in relationships by blaming the other person for “making me feel this way” instead of taking our power back and recognizing our control in our responses. The fears of being hurt and the feelings of vulnerability associated with disempowerment are scary. It is natural to work on avoiding them. However, if you can take ownership of your emotional responsibility and own your role in your feelings you do not have to fear hurt and vulnerability.
I meet with a lot of people who feel that it is someone else’s responsibility to make them happy. They are easily knocked off course when negative things happen because they have put their emotional experience in another’s hands. They often feel out of control and play games in relationships – “I’ll hurt you before you hurt me” kind of mentalities. Getting hurt is a matter of life. We love people and they leave us. We want something and we do not get it. We work really hard and we still fail. We want to feel good enough, but we don’t. In each of these situations, acceptance is the key to navigating the difficult emotions. By accepting what is in this moment just as it is we have an opportunity to objectively examine what is happening. From this place, we can determine what worked, what did not and where we can learn more about what to do next for a better chance at success.
Understanding Impact and Influence
We are not responsible for another’s feelings. This means I cannot make you mad, happy or sad. And you cannot make me mad, happy or sad. We cannot “make someone feel something”. They are 100% responsible for their feelings and actions. I am completely in control of my emotional experiences and you are in control of yours. Many want to feel the good sensations that come from “making someone happy” and work to avoid feelings of “I made you sad”. In reality, you did neither. You cannot make someone happy or sad because you cannot control how they are internally reacting to your actions. I have no control over how you experience what I say. I might be able to influence you but I cannot control you. Your experience of what I do gets filtered through your past experiences and is based on how you are feeling at a particular moment. I cannot control if you are hungry, annoyed with something else or overwhelmed by another situation. Therefore I cannot control how you will receive my actions (actions include statements, behaviors, and even emotions). As a result, I cannot control how you will react to me.
In our relationships, we often “take things personally” when the other person does something that impacts us. As I am impacted I have a reaction. I may feel sad, hurt or angry. This response may be based on similar past experiences. My reaction to another’s action(s) may be based on an expectation I had about the situation. When I am impacted it is hard to remember that what they do is about who they are, not about me. How they speak to me, the words they use, the actions they do are all about how they orient to the world. I am only responsible for how I orient to the world and how I react. I am in control of my emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
What other people do and say reflects the experiences of the other person. However, we tend to interpret what they do as a reflection of us. This misguided interpretation leaves us dealing with our own core wounds and struggles. We feel unsafe, unheard, negated, less than, etc rather than full in our experience of being. As a result of the negative impact, we are experiencing we respond as though what is happening is happening to us rather than just impacting us at the moment. We control our response to everything that impacts us and do not have to be knocked off a positive track just because we were negatively impacted by someone else’s behaviors.
What to focus on so you don’t take people’s actions personally
To help ourselves maintain focus on our goals we need to be able to recognize what is happening. When we slow down and recognize that their actions are about them we can take control of our reaction. We recognize we can feel our full selves just because we exist. We no longer need anyone else to tell us otherwise. We can embrace our full experience and decide how to deal with it – especially when we do not like it.
In order to do this well, we have to be willing to take responsibility for our own experience and our own actions. You have to decide how you want to be in the world. What are your goals for your experiences, expectations for yourself and what do you want to accomplish? We have to look at how we speak to others, the word choices we use, the body language we project, and the actions we do or do not do. We have to take ownership of how we have hurt others. We have to notice when we are triggered back to early wounds and experiences that hurt us so we do not perpetuate the hurt. And we have to take responsibility for our own healing. This is hard work. Many people want to say – “there is nothing wrong with me, it’s so and so’s fault. I am fine and good and right”. This way we protect ourselves from our own experiences of feeling less than.
If we can take responsibility for our own experiences we can determine how to heal them. We can take our power back and find ourselves strong in our sense of worth. We can embrace being good enough, smart enough, wanted, needed, etc. We can own our individual gifts while allowing others to own theirs. We do not need to tear them down so we feel big anymore. We can allow them to be who they are, doing what they do without getting caught in our own story, old hurts and core wounds. We can choose to set boundaries, choose to engage with them or not. We can decide how we want to react and who we want to be without worry about what anyone else is doing.
Easier said than done, I know. One way to make sure you are moving in a positive direction is by helping yourself focus on what you can do. Find a daily routine that helps you feel grounded. Maybe it is a morning meditation, reading, and reflection or movement plan. Your job is to focus on what you want, your goals for your future, and what helps keep you moving toward them. It might be building new behaviors or letting go of old ones. Sometimes actions needed will be clear and other times it will not be clear. Sometimes this will be small and sometimes it will be big changes in your life.
Your job is to stop and pay attention to you. What do you need in this moment? What do you need to do right now – not what you want the other person to do, or say or be. What would help you take care of you? Put your attention where you want it to go … on creating the life you want to live.
Ready to Make a Change?
And as always, if you are struggling you can schedule a 15 min Q&A appointment to see if it’s time to give yourself the gift of therapy. When else can you talk about yourself for an hour with someone trained to deeply listen to your core, not just the story you tell yourself.