In the past 2.5 months I’ve purchased my first home, moved 1100 miles away from the place I called home for 6 years, quit my job, and immediately went into lock down upon arrival in PA. I don’t need to explain the more recent world events that have occurred, because unless you’ve been living under a rock you’re probably well-versed in everything that’s been going on. Needless to say I’ve been through a lot of emotional states the past 2.5 months of quarantine, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
The first month I was optimistic and extremely productive. The second month I was still riding the waves of optimism about my new life and the potential for my business here, my dreams for what direction I wanted to take it in, planning what I’ll do once we’re out of lockdown. Then June arrived and I was noticeably less enthused. Selfishly, I want to have my hair cut and colored so I can stop layering on temporary color myself. I want to visit yoga studios and learn about their culture so I can see where I may fit in as a teacher here. I want to visit with friends I haven’t seen in 6 months since I was home for Christmas. On Tuesday I woke up feeling sad. I spent more time than I should have or normally do on social media and saw that everyone in Tampa is out resuming their lives while I have no idea when our local lockdown is going to end. I saw friends peacefully protesting for the BLM movement and wished that I could join them. I thought about where I would be professionally if I hadn’t left when I did - probably teaching yoga regularly and resuming business as it was pre-covid. Then I felt the guilt that comes with realizing your own privilege. Here I am wanting trivial luxuries while people are protesting for basic human rights in our own cities! Side note - guilt and shame are the most toxic emotions and do nothing to foster positive change so we do well to transmute them into something productive, even if it’s anger. I did feel angry. And slightly regretful, and confused, and lost, and grateful at the same time.
But when I really got honest with myself I mostly just felt sad.
I don’t experience that often, which I am grateful for, but when I do I’ve learned that in order to move through that sadness I need to let myself experience it completely. The inclination is to shove away unpleasant emotions as quickly as possible so that we don’t have to deal with them. If only that worked! The only way out is through! So I went into my sadness and let it consume me - let it move me to tears many times throughout the day. I thought about keeping it to myself (or my journal) but if we’re truly connected to our inner source, we know that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm; that whatever we are experiencing individually is a reflection of what we are experiencing as a collective. I knew that I need to share this with others.
There was a study done with 200 high school students that surveyed them about their emotional events. Of 27 emotions, sadness was the emotion that lasted the longest. When we start looking into the health effects of sadness, we see that it's the emotion connected to addiction, and when we talk grief (another level of sadness), we begin seeing an association with inflammation.
So if sadness is the longest-lasting emotion and we know that inflammation is the root of countless diseases, what do we do with that information?
Well, we move, sit with, create with, and express that sadness. Every emotion has a purpose. Society doesn't easily condone sadness like other emotions. But we can turn it into stories that can help others, we can witness it, we can move it through out bodies, we can feel it rather than deny it...so many different ways to connect to this powerful emotion.
- Journal it or write poems
- Paint it
- Do physical activity or bodywork to let it move through the body
- Talk it out: telling your story helps others and nourishes yourself
- Ask for support from friends or professionals
- Let it be seen. Grief needs to be witnessed; it’s not weakness
- Cry. Crying releases inflammatory cytokines
- Sleep or rest when you need it
I talked with friends and my husband, I brought my sadness to my yoga mat and dropped into my body to feel where I was storing the sadness. I cried, and I slept. I woke up yesterday feeling hopeful and lighter, having fully felt the weight of the sadness the day before. I had a few new creative ideas where I had previously felt heaviness and stagnant.
We’re talking about so much these days - immune health, gut health, mental health…its hard to keep up with all of it. I want to check in with you and make sure you’re doing the one thing that has a direct effect on ALL of the other things I just mentioned. I wanted to make sure you are sleeping and sleeping well.
Our diet quality influences our sleep quality. And our sleep quality and duration influence our food choices and cravings during the day. Having one of these things off-track can cause the other to be off-track and before you know it you find yourself in a vicious cycle. I’ve been researching sleep a lot lately and implementing the research into my sessions with clients. If you aren’t sure about your sleep quality then download this sleep log and start to keep track.
Take care of each other and take care of yourself. We are moving toward a brighter future together but we will have to sit with a few stormy days before we get there.