Friday, September 11, 2020

Perfectly Overwhelmed


I don’t  see blue sky outside my window. I see orange fog. Smoke. And gray particulates falling through the air. Just when I was getting used to wearing a face mask, cleansing everything with sanitizer and accepting a pandemic, my part of the world started burning. 

I am scared. I worry about all the people I know in danger and their children and animals and homes. I thank the brave firefighters and responders and want them to all come home, safe. And there is nothing I can really do to help stop any of this. What can any of us really do?

All I see on social media is pictures of the smoke, orange sky, flames outside everyone’s windows. I keep reacting to each and every one the same: shocked emoji. And I’ve taken my own pictures as well, but it just seems hard to post them. 


Here’s a post I did see on social media this week and I found it very helpful.


This is from Lisa O’ Baire:

Dear West Coast friends, if you’re feeling anxious or unsettled by our orange, smoky skies, please remember that your animal body is responding *perfectly*. 

Your nervous system is so smart. 

You’re biologically wired to feel afraid.

Your body is prepping for threat that is not yet here.

What can you do to feel more settled in this moment?

1) Self-Touch

2) Self-Talk

3) Reach Out for Connection

4) Remember Impermanence


Massage your body, even if it’s *just* squeezing your own arms. Take a shower with cool water. Ask a loved one to lay on top of you or use a weighted blanket. Sitting up with your feet on the floor, ask a friend to slowly press down on the top of your feet (it works!). Take a moment to smell something lovely. Connecting to our senses is one of the quickest ways to get “unstuck” when overwhelmed.


Speak aloud what you most need to hear. Pretend you’re a loving parent and speak to your younger self: “Thank you, body, for reminding me that this is a scary moment. I am safe right now. I am resilient and prepared to act, if necessary. Until then, I am completely safe — even if it doesn’t feel like it.”

Reach Out for Connection

I appreciate every picture of an orange sky on FB right now. I see it as a bid for connection. You are not alone. Write to a family member or friend who lives in another area. Ask them to send you a photo of a beautiful blue sky. Call someone who delights you! Friends are our lifelines and can help us co-regulate. It’s likely your call will make their day too. 

Remember Impermanence

Our sweet brains need help remembering there is a different (better) future ahead. In times of strife, the body’s job is to keep us alive at all costs. Chemicals flood the body to “help”, but you may find yourself frozen — or desperate to flee or fight. 

Remind yourself that this WILL end. 

This WILL shift. 

Blue skies WILL come again. 

And finally, please remember that none of this anxiety mismatch is your fault. Nervous system regulation and resiliency was not taught in school.  Self-regulation and somatic awareness are the most important skills you can gift yourselves and your children. You’re worth it. 

Thank you, Lisa for helping me understand that feeling overwhelmed right now is perfectly all right. 

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