For Days When It's Hard...

Hi there. I'm going to be honest here for a minute, I'm not having a great week. I know I'm not the only one and I know that there are many other people out there that are having a week that's much worse. I know because I've had worse weeks and even on those weeks, I knew that for someone else it was worse.

Assuming you consume any kind of media or social media outside this blog you know about the Humbolt hockey team's bus accident. You've probably seen some #sticksoutforhumbolt. While it seems everyone feels sad about this terrible accident, there are always people who react to news stories more strongly because it triggers in them memories of their own past trauma. While this is pervasive in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even individuals who do not meet the criteria for PTSD can experience upsetting memories, flashbacks, or emotional distress after being reminded of the trauma. 

I'm explaining this because while I saw many posts on self care when the #metoo hashtag was spreading like wildfire, I have not seen anything yet on coping with being triggered by the Humbolt bus accident; and this accident is triggering. It's triggering for me personally, because of my experience waiting for news while a loved one was in critical care, but I'm sure for many others as well. For people who have lost or came close to loosing loved ones, particularly if elements of this tragedy are similar to their own experience.

So it's out there. We've all had experiences in our lives that have been difficult, and we are all going to be reminded of them sometimes. So whether you landed on this page because the Humbolt's bus accident is affecting you, or you are feeling like today is just a bit much for another reason, here are my top tips for self care this week.

1. Name your emotions.

It's OK to be sad. I picked sad because it's how I'm feeling but really it's ok to feel whatever emotion is coming up for you. Anger. Regret. Shame. Fear. Despair. Whatever it is you are feeling, you are allowed to feel it. Acknowledge how you are feeling - without judgement -  and give yourself permission to express it. 

It's also important to remember that feelings aren't a competition and there is no "wrong" way to feel. If you are mad, don't feel like you can't be mad because someone else has more reason to be, or is even more upset. Everyone is entitled to their emotions, regardless of what other people are going through.

2. Enjoy the small things

When things are difficult it can be hard to feel like things are going well. Rather than hinge your happiness on the big moments, let yourself enjoy whatever you can - however small. Perhaps you've got a great tasting cup of coffee, a song you really like came on the radio, or you noticed the sun pouring in through a window. However fleeting - looking for - and enjoying these small moments help to keep you in the present and can be a small light moment in a dark day.

3. Eat / Sleep / Walk

Emotions effect us in ways that can make even the most basic tasks of living life seem enormous, impossible, or inconsequential. You may have little or no appetite, not be tired or be tired and unable to sleep, or feel lethargic. Even if you are not hungry your body needs food. Preferably some kind of fruit or vegetable every 4-6 hours. If it's been longer than that and you aren't hungry try and eat something anyway. Same goes for sleep and getting outside. It may be the last thing you feel like doing but your mind and body will feel better if you give it an opportunity to move and stretch and to rest.  

4. Unplug

This one seems obvious but it can be the hardest. If stories on social media are triggering you - maybe you need to take a day or two off? If you feel like you've been on your phone all day, maybe put it down in another room? This is a great time to replace the technology distraction with something that you love to do and feel like you never have time for whether thats woodworking, knitting, or meeting a friend. 

None of these things are magical. They don't change what has happened or what's happening right now but what they do is help you move through the present, because sometimes, that's the only goal.