June 21, 2020

Being Well When All is Not Well

We are all living in unprecedented times. Not only are we in the midst of a global pandemic and civil unrest unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime, but we are also living in a world of information overload. Not only are we getting more information than ever, but we are also overwhelmed daily with material that is often not from trustworthy sources, news agencies doctoring photographs to create drama and scientific data that seems to change every time we finally understand something. 

It’s A LOT. 

Globally, we have all been struggling through the realities of quarantine, fear, and the myriad issues with data and reporting. Everyone has unique battles right now- working from home with children remote learning; getting laid off and trying to provide for a household; battling medical issues that make this pandemic especially terrifying; missing friends, family, and social interaction; balancing having everyone home; struggling through loneliness and depression. Though each person’s struggles may be different, I doubt anyone reading this could sit and think, “Nah, nothing about this has been hard for me.” We are all navigating uncharted waters and doing the best we can in our own situations. 

Now, add the protests, civil unrest, and discourse taking place in the United States, and things can become unbearable. Personally, I had been struggling a lot with balancing my job, my kids, my home, my health, and my sanity. I have been struggling with decision fatigue and constantly trying to decide what is safe and acceptable for our family. After Ahmaud Arbery’s death, another layer was added in- what I can I do to be an ally and advocate for change? That mission has only grown with more high-profile murders of Black Americans by police and the protests and cries for help continue.  

With these really serious, heavy, and impactful realities, I have had multiple days where I unravel. It doesn’t always take the same form. Some days I may find myself binge eating a bag of jalapeno chips. Others, I am short with my family and unnecessarily grumpy and harsh. More often, I am a ball of anxiety-prone to cry often and spend large quantities of time reading the news. 

What I have come to realize is that I cannot be effective in any way if I am not okay. Now, of course, this is always true, but in “normal” life it is easier to identify issues or things causing stress and address them. Currently, EVERYTHING is causing stress. There is a saying that has been said in various ways, and I can’t find a verified original source of it, but I cannot pour from an empty cup. If I am sleep deprived, stressed out, eating garbage and not taking care of myself, how can I possibly expect myself to be able to care for my family, my friends, my clients, and my pets while also retaining the energy and state of mind to adequately advocate for others? It cannot be done. 

I will share more on my current wellness strategies in the second part of this post, but today, I simply want you to think about this topic in your own life. Are you feeling exhausted, depressed, angry, sad, or all of the above? Are you taking time every single day to do something that helps to fill your cup? Something that is just for you and no one else? I encourage you to revisit my earlier post regarding self-care for some ideas, but this is a task that only you can truly evaluate for yourself. What works for me may not work for you. What matters most is that you are recognizing your feelings and taking the time, even if it is just ten minutes a day, to take care of YOU in the midst of these difficult times. 

Whatever your priorities may be, make sure you have included yourself on your list. You cannot pour from an empty cup. 

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