What do you do when life gets hard?
Looking back when the pandemic first hit, I shut down, just like the world did. It’s what I tend to do when I am overwhelmed, one of my unhealthy coping mechanisms. I avoid things.
Although when the pandemic first started feels forever ago and some of the details are blurred, I do remember feeling anger, exhaustion, anxiety, and overwhelm. I remember sitting at a computer for over 8 hours with headphones in offering guidance, support and encouragement to parents all day long, but not offering myself the same guidance. At the end of the day, I scrambled to get dinner on the table. I was angry for not getting a break and I was burning out, fast. And it was only the first week of an uncertain number of weeks.
I was ending each day crabby and irritable. I was avoiding my own self-care and attempting to ignore the real emotions I was having. It felt like I was running a marathon, but not getting anywhere. Have you ever felt this way before?
Looking back, everything feels like a blur. I remember small details, like driving on Hwy 44 when I received the call that my blood work came back and the doctor wanted to see me first thing in the morning, and knowing this was not good.
I remember sitting in the room at the doctor’s office with my husband beside me. Everyone was sobbing, my doctor included. We had tried for so long to conceive and, at 17 weeks into the pregnancy, our baby would not survive.
I remember my mom telling me that she had nicknamed her first grandchild “Acorn.” A tiny seed that would not have the opportunity to sprout.
And I remember the day we lost Acorn.
The weeks after that are fuzzy, but the biggest thing I remember was feeling anger, exhaustion, anxiety, and overwhelm. It felt like I was running a marathon and not getting anywhere.
In week 2 of the pandemic, my toddler was given a nature scavenger hunt from her preschool to try and find specific things in nature to share with the next zoom class. I stared at the acorn on her paper. Suddenly everything I was feeling made sense.
My pregnancy loss was out of my control, similar to the pandemic. It was the most significant loss in my personal life up until then. All the feelings I was having during the initial start of the pandemic were similar to losing Acorn.
And then I remembered the one thing I did consistently after Acorn.
I walked. My husband and I explored many state parks and nature reserves throughout Missouri. We spent hours on the weekends in nature. It was our solace. It was comforting and it helped.
After my toddler’s Zoom class, I put on my tennis shoes and I walked. And I’ve continued walking almost daily.
It was one thing that I could control and that would make me feel better.
From Acorn to Oak
It takes years for an acorn to become an oak tree.
“You cannot plant an acorn in the morning and expect that afternoon to sit in the shade of an oak.”
–Antoine De Saint-Exupery
When life gets hard, we can acknowledge the pain and uncertainty. We can voice our frustrations, angst, grief, and overwhelm. We can choose to fall back on old, unhealthy coping skills or we can choose to keep moving forward. Some days it is a struggle, but I’m growing. And my child is watching me grow too. Everyday I’m closer to being a shady oak tree.
I encourage you to make one healthy change in your day. Choose one thing that will help you feel better. It could be:
- walking (or other forms of physical exercise)
- eliminating one unhealthy food/drink
- starting your morning with a gratitude journal
- ending your day with 10 minutes of meditation
How will you choose to nourish yourself when life gets hard? How will you hold yourself accountable?