2020; a Year of Mourning

Many people think of grief as something you go through when someone you know dies. While this concept has validity, grief encompasses so much more than a loss of life. I define grief as a point in time where something significantly changes, and you view it as a divide. What once was, and now the present.

It’s safe to say 2020 has been a year of mourning for all of us. The pandemic certainly brought a divide, along with ambiguous grief. The feeling of uncertainty is quite unsettling. We may be fearful of our health, our jobs, our social health, our friends, our loved small businesses closing, certain industries being strained, etc. Closing, re-opening, “dialing back”, are all phrases we are too familiar with, along with the phrase “unprecedented time”. This season of life we are in is ever changing our and evolving. “New normal” is a phrase that has stigma as well. I heard opinions say they reject the idea this is the new normal and are waiting for things to go back to what once was. The reality is, we may never go back to what once was. It is on us to accept the time it is as now, and try to move forward each day. Whether it is day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.

Not only has the pandemic brought a divide, the tragedy of George Floyd has certainly brought a season of mourning.

To tie it up into a pretty bow, we had our most significant election yet.

2020 has brought a season of significant changes that will be documented in history books. That has been something I’ve been pondering recently, how 2020 will be transcribed and taught to future generations. What as a society are we learning from this?

I think the biggest thing I’m learning is how to cope with grief. I’d like to admit that I’m an expert on grief as it relates to my own personal life. I have lost many loved ones, and have had a significant amount of large life changes, specific to 2020. I rented my condo and moved to Raleigh, I lost my aunt to a tragic heart attack (and was unable to attend her funeral due to the pandemic), I quit my full time job, I chose to dissolve my long term relationship, I moved back home to Minnesota, I got a job as a server as soon as I got home, and now with the shutdown I am not employed there currently.

2020 has been a year. For everyone, not just me. I think we all can relate to the struggle 2020 has brought to all of us. The uncertainty, the mourning and loss, the pain. We are all in it, we all feel it.

So what can we do about it? This is a time where we need to unify and come together, instead of pointing fingers. If we take a step back, we may realize we are not so different after all. We are all human, we make mistakes, we have emotions, and everything you may be feeling about 2020, has validity.

I wish I could say at the stroke of midnight on December 31st all our problems would be taken care of. Since we know that isn’t the case, here are some of my personal tips for coping with grief that work for me.

  • Have real, meaningful conversations with trusted individuals about your feelings. Make sure you trust this individual to validate your emotions and truly listen to you, rather than jumping to conclusions trying to “fix” a problem.
  • Set boundaries with others. Grief can drain you, so energy conservation is vital. A simple “that makes me uncomfortable,” or “I don’t have the (time, space, capacity, etc.) to discuss that right now” works well.
  • Take care of yourself. Seek movement each day. Don’t get hung up on setting extremes where you must be on a strict diet or training regime. Your energy may be low and setting too strict or high of plans could set you up for failure, and may result in low self esteem.
  • Be mindful of what you are putting into your body. At meal times breathe slowly, practice gratitude, and chew each bite thoroughly.
  • Seek an activity that ignites your sense of “play”. This is hard due to circumstances now, but play can be found in coloring or doing something creative, reading a fun book, playing a game with a family member or friend, getting creative in the kitchen, doing a project, etc. Find something you enjoy doing, and relish in that feeling.
  • Ground yourself. This means practice being present in the moment. Breath work is great for this. If yoga is feels good, try that. A friend recently suggested a really great way to implement a new habit of grounding yourself if it isn’t something your used to. He asserted a way to make a new habit stick, is to apply it to one that’s already there. For example, ground yourself while brushing your teeth. Focus directly on teeth brushing, or maybe listen to a specific song you enjoy, or try repeating positive affirmations in your head. The act is do something intentional each day that reminds you that you are here, and the time is now.

I hope you find value in my tips, and am very grateful that you have read my post. Feel free to leave a comment on any tips that you’ve tried that works well for you. I know I will use all the advice I can get considering the year I’ve had!

Love, light, warmth, and positive vibes,

Annie

P.S. Looking for some accountability, a trusted health professional, and a cheerleader for your health and fitness goals? Schedule a FREE discovery call that works for your time and schedule using the button on my services page!

Doggie Stress isn’t so Different from Human Stress

Good Morning,

Today I want to share how my morning started off with being overwhelmed. I slept in a little bit longer as I stayed up a little bit later. Julean was up before me as he is on a time crunch for work. I got my things together ready to go to the gym, and took Benji outside. Then I noticed while I was outside, I left my keys and my phone inside the condo. I go to the front entry way, call my phone several times hoping Julean would pick up. After he didn’t, I scrolled to see if I could find a neighbor to let me in. Luckily, I was able to have someone let me in.

When I got back in, I asked if he heard my phone, and he got defensive and said no. I brushed it off at that point. Then, I notice a canvas print of us on a vacation was no longer hanging up. I automatically assumed he walked in with Benji annoyed and brushed the picture off the wall and didn’t care enough to pick it back up and re-hang it.

As I was meditating this morning at the gym, it made me reflect on the private dog training session we had with Benji last week. The dog trainer talked about how Benji is an anxious puppy, since it appears he was injured by one of his litter mates. (He has a tucked ear). Therefore, he always assumes other dogs are dangerous until proven otherwise, and gets very anxious around them.

The dog trainer explained something to me called “trigger stacking”. This concept is where Benji would go on a walk, and see one dog, and cortisol would be released. When he sees the next dog, he will have an even more anxious response since the cortisol did not have enough time to process through his body. The cortisol is stacked on top of the previous stress response with each dog he sees on a walk. This was eye opening to me as a few weeks ago we took Benji to the CHS’ Dog Day at the Saints Baseball game. I thought it would be a good idea to take Benji rollerblading prior to the event to “burn off some energy”. However, this was the opposite of the right thing to do for Benji. Rollerblading released cortisol as he saw other dogs on the path. Benji was at a heightened state of stress when he brought him to the game.

Full circle back to how I was overwhelmed this morning. Perhaps we as humans aren’t quite so different from our animal friends. My stress started as I slept in a little bit later than normal. This wasn’t a huge stressor since I welcomed the extra hour of sleep. I soon became annoyed because Benji didn’t eat his dinner last night and it was still on the floor. I try to brush it off and realize he probably really needs to go to the bathroom and that’s why he’s not eating. Being at my own heightened state of stress, I did not have the rationale to remember to grab my condo keys. Then, more stress is released as I realized I forgot, and Julean doesn’t answer my phone. Take it one step further as I notice a valued print is on the floor, my rational thinking it completely out the door at this point (no pun intended originally, but kind of punny!), and I make the assumption that it was Julean’s carelessness.

Then, I notice the 3M hook the canvas was hanging on is no longer on the wall. It was neither of our fault’s.

I’m currently working through Headspace’s series called, “Letting Go of Stress” and today’s guided meditation was exactly what I needed to hear and to reflect. I was definitely overwhelmed by stress this morning and it affected the way that I reacted. I have to constantly remind myself I need to respond to stressful situations instead of reacting. I’m interested and excited to keep going through Headspace’s series and see how I can grow my skill of responded to stress, letting go of stress, and not being overwhelmed by it.

We’re not so different from our animal friends, are we? Please share your thoughts! Have you ever experienced trigger stacking?

In gratitude,

Annie