The one year anniversary of lockdown is particularly meaningful to me because it’s my birthday, March 13th. I was just reminded that it was a Friday the 13th, which I don’t put much stock in because I don’t consider it unlucky when my birthday falls on a Friday. It’s been a whole freaking year since I’ve seen anyone socially inside and unmasked. In a way I’m proud of that because I took this seriously from the start and in another I’m horrified and tired. I’ve made so many friends but I’ve lost friends who failed to take this seriously (they didn’t pass away thankfully, I’m just not staying in touch because I can’t condone that). I’ve also grieved for people who have lost loved ones, who have chronic illness from covid, and who have lost jobs. Entire industries have all but shuttered and our way of life has changed forever. While it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting vaccinated in time for my birthday as I hoped, I will likely be able to get the shot sometime in April. We have three vaccines now and more are coming, we got a competent and caring administration this year, and we’ll gradually get back to something resembling normal.
So many of us are struggling with how to feel now. A new article in The Lily kind of summed it up for me and I wanted to talk about it. I especially appreciated what their expert said about holding trauma in the body.
The second time around, a Zoom birthday party has lost its novelty. Another online Passover Seder reminds us that we’re still here. A year into a “Groundhog Day” kind of existence, this month has the potential to be an emotional beast.
Kimberly Gordon, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Maryland medical school, sees the month as a time to connect with the heady emotions and reflect.
“Trauma keeps score, and it keeps score in our body and our brains,” Gordon said. “We all are having to adjust to a different environment.”
She recommends doing body scans and paying attention to physical signals.
“Allow your body to reset. What type of triggers are you having in your body? What sensations are you having in your body about that trauma? See where the emotion sits,” she said. People can harbor stress in their hands, back or stomach, she said. Gordon herself gets headaches.
“Think about strategies that you can use to combat that. If you’re one of those people who get headaches when you’re stressed, you may be dehydrated, you may need to get a little bit more sleep. You may need to put your phone aside and turn off the TV so your eyes are not getting strained.”
Gordon adds the strain can be more intense for those who have experienced loss in the last year.
“For some people the shock is over, and they think, ‘I don’t know really what I feel, but I know it’s not how I used to feel.’ The expectation to return to normal is a little bit premature. The expectation for right now is to reset and refocus and to recuperate,” she said.
[From The Lily]
The article goes on to quote Gordon telling us to “take time to process” what we’ve lost. They also quote a psychology professor from Berkeley, Dacher Keltner, who says we should “take the time and reflect on the lessons learned and the time lost.” That’s good advice and I will try to take it, because buying stuff online constantly, baking, cooking and binging television to escape my sadness is not cutting it. At least now I have a better explanation for why I’m sore all over than just the fact that I’m getting old and am working out too hard. My emotion is sitting in my neck and back lately. It needs to be let out and it’s time to let myself grieve finally. After that I’m going to make out with random guys. (Who are vaccinated, age appropriate and Democrats. OK that pool is still small.)
photos credit: Charles Deluvio Chris Montgomery and Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash, Anna Shvets on Pexels
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