Updated: Oct 13, 2021
A question from Amy in Bremerton, Washington:
Dear Eric, Ever since the beginning of the initial lockdown, I’ve been wracked with anxiety and nothing is helping. My therapist says it’s common given today’s mental health crisis, but I don’t want to simply accept this as the new normal. Any advice?
I’m so sorry to hear about your challenges with anxiety—and your therapist is correct, at least in one respect: it is common in today’s world. But it doesn’t have to be. You see, here’s what too many people miss.
These challenging times do not represent a “mental-health crisis” nearly as much as they represent a “self-care crisis”.
That is to say, most people have fallen out of the habit of nourishing themselves in the way their body-minds need.
Add to this the fact that these difficult times have predictably imposed an increased load on our bodies, on our minds, and on our nervous systems—with concerns about our health, uncertainty about our future, disruption of our routines, worry about our children and on and on. Indeed, without the appropriate self-care practices, we absolutely have a crisis in the making. And to make matters worse, because of the difficulties of today's world, we can’t expect the same level of self-care, of body-mind nourishment, that once sustained us to suffice in these more tumultuous circumstances.
I mean, you wouldn’t expect to run a marathon across the scorching Sahara Desert while drinking the same amount of water as you do lazing in your backyard at home. And yet, for most people, not only have they not stepped up their self-care practices; they’ve let them all together fall apart. - Their twice-weekly yoga classes have been replaced by two hours of Netflix.
- Their morning meditation has been supplanted by scrambling to get the kids going. - Their time for self-soothing and nurturing has taken a backseat to the crisis of the day. It’s no wonder, so many are suffering.
But here’s what’s so important to see: it’s so very unnecessary.
All we need to do to set things straight is to do the simple things to nourish our bodies and minds in the way that they need. So my best advice is this: Don’t let these challenging times be the excuse for living anything less than your best life. Instead, re-double your intention to engage with your yoga, your meditation, and your other self-care routines and then schedule them as you would a meeting with a friend. It’s through the regular nourishment of body, mind, and spirit that we can step into the grace and ease that is waiting for us, no matter what the talking heads on the news have to say.