“Great joys make us love the world.
Great sadnesses make us understand the world.”
There have certainly been many events recently in the world that invoke great sadness. The news is filled with tragedy and conflict. I have heard from many people who are feeling out of control and overwhelmed with all the violence and suffering. Often we respond to crisis by staying plugged into the constant news coverage or we unplug completely in an attempt to deny what is happening.
Unfortunately these two approaches do not usually contribute to feeling more empowered because they do not acknowledge the foundation of how we are feeling. For many of us tragedies trigger feelings of grief and fear. Understanding how these emotions impact us is an important part of caring for ourselves during these difficult times.
I have found that grief has a way of knitting itself into the texture of our days and permeating our existence, like dark ink dropping onto the fabric of our day. Grief can be a very isolating experience, as it leaves us feeling raw and vulnerable and unable to interact in normal activities.
Fear is also invasive and tends to weave itself into our thinking, undermining our peace of mind and increasing our anxious thoughts and concerns about what is going to happen next.
There is no more important time for self-nurturing than when we are experiencing grief and fear. And although it is a challenge, it is essential to find gentle ways to care for ourselves during these difficult times.
Here are five ways to begin nurturing yourself:
1. Start by looking at your self-nurturing practice to see if there are any activities you can continue. Having some connection to your normal schedule can be very grounding. If you take a walk each day, meditate or write in a journal continue doing so, even for 5-10 minutes each day.
2. Bring mindfulness to the choices you make about what to eat. Choosing healthy food filled with nutrients and energy and minimizing food and drink that deplete you is critical at this time.
3. Identify a few activities that feel deeply nurturing. Perhaps you find walking in nature, talking to a supportive friend or loved one, petting your animal, reading an inspiring book or appreciating music, art or beauty to be really nourishing.
4. Encourage yourself to engage in these activities a few times during the week and notice how you feel after. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to motivate yourself to go out and do anything when you are overwhelmed with grief and fear, but most of us feel better for doing it.
5. Finally find some way to feel that you are making the world a better place by being kind and compassionate, spending loving time with family, volunteering, and contributing in any way that makes you feel that you are having a positive impact in the world.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
May you nurture yourself during difficult times so that you can be the light to transform the darkness and may you live authentically in truth and beauty, nurturing peace in the world from the inside out!
Please share your comments below to inspire and encourage others!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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