What to do when your world turns upside down.
By Kat Holden, Life coach and EFT therapist
If you’ve experienced trauma of any kind, you know first hand how everything can change in the blink of an eye. It comes in many guises. It could be divorce, or death of a loved one, redundancy, or children leaving home. It could even be a worldwide pandemic. For me it was a cancer diagnosis.
Whatever the catalyst that turns your world upside down, it can feel as though you’ve lost yourself. You can become consumed with fear, overwhelm, anger, grief and even depression.
It can feel like you are spinning out of control, that you are powerless and alone.
Through every catalyst comes phases of recovery.
In phase one, at a time when it’s difficult to hold a thought, or find the strength to get out of bed, with life spiralling out of control, the most important thing you can do is just stop. Breathe. And then focus on the basics; family, food and fresh air.
In phase two, it’s time to reclaim a semblance of your strength both physically and emotionally. In other words, now is the time to focus on your vitality.
To feel empowered when our world is spinning out of control takes small consistent steps every day. It’s those steps that encourage us to get up, get dressed and live our best possible day – even when the world is changing so dramatically and we can not imagine what our future will be.
Here are seven daily rituals that will take you from lost and overwhelmed to feeling empowered, calm and connected.
1. Journaling. You need to find a safe space to vent, rant, rage. We are living through uncertain times and there is a lot of fear in the world right now. You need to be able to process those overwhelming emotions so you don’t carry them around with you all day. I follow Julia Cameron’s philosophy of morning pages. 3 x A4 pages of unconscious writing. That means as close to waking as possible, sit somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted, and then write whatever is in your head – as quickly as possible. Don’t filter or worry about your handwriting. Just get the noise from your monkey mind onto the page. When you have written 3 pages, close the book. And then get on with your day.
2. Hydration + Wholesome food. During this crisis, it’s especially important to stay as vital as possible so you’re best able to take care of yourself and your loved ones. This means staying hydrated and eating nutrition meals. Start your morning with a glass of warm water and lemon juice. Throughout the day, keep a glass of water by your side – you’re aiming to drink 8 glasses a day. Put a timer in your phone if necessary to remind you to drink. Eat wholesome food; a rainbow of fruit and veggies as well as wholegrains, healthy fats and protein.
3. Gentle exercise. Get outside every day – use your hour to step out of the house, listen to the birds singing, feel the warm sun on your face and get fresh air into your lungs. It’s important to focus on your strength and flexibility. Get out on your bike, or maybe a run or brisk walk – anything that will challenge you, as long as you’re still able to talk (to yourself of course!)
4. Mindfulness. Every day find 10 minutes to just sit and breathe. Our breath is our life force and when we are stressed we have a tendency to breath shallow and fast, some of us even hold our breath. These 10 minutes will slow your mind down and bring much needed calm to an anxious mind and body. Find a guided meditation or prayer, sit somewhere quiet and allow yourself to focus purely on the words.
5. Gratitude. The quickest and most joyful way to reignite your energy, to warm your heart, to bring clarity and appreciation for life. Whether you write in your journal or allow those thoughts to flow through your body – a few moments every day as a reminder of all you have will boost your vitality and pull you forward towards a brand new day.
6. Rest. Good quality sleep may be elusive for a while and as it’s the corner stone to vitality, you must find a way to rest throughout the day. Whether that’s finding time to nap, or allowing others to cook the dinner whilst you have a bath, make sure you prioritise this time. And remember a relaxing wind-down routine at the end of the day can make a huge difference to your ability to fall asleep.
7. Extra support. Whatever challenge you’re facing, or have faced, I highly recommend finding a counsellor or therapist who can help you make sense of it all and help you to heal. Our emotional resilience during any trauma is of upmost importance – it is this that takes us from surviving to thriving. The professional help I had during and after my cancer battle was life changing for me.
It was the professional help, the safe space and support that was given to me that ignited a passion within and became the driving force behind my business as I went on to qualify as a coach, art therapist and EFT practitioner so I could support others in their success stories as they too navigate their way through challenges and back to life.
What resources and rituals help you thrive?
These practices made all the difference to me. But I’d love to know your rituals – perhaps something that seems small, but made all the difference when times have been tough.
Take care, Kat xx