What’s helping you feel safe right now?
What’s your warm blanket to wrap around you?
I imagine you have days when you feel hopeless and overwhelmed, where the anxiety doesn’t cease, and uncertainty seems to be our new normal.
We are 7 months into a global pandemic, and I want to be real with you- September was the most difficult month I have had in years. World Mental Health Day was this month, and I found myself reflecting on my journey with mental health, and how the pandemic has affected it. There is just so, so much going on.
It feels overwhelming, distressing, and I vacillate often between angry and afraid. To a certain extent, our bodies and nervous systems are capable of regulating that stress response. But when we encounter a stressful situation that feels overwhelming and pushes our nervous system way past it’s self regulation ability, we get “stuck.” September felt ‘stuck,’ like I was in total survival mode. I needed to find a way to better take care of myself when I felt so tender. And this brought me back to last November.
The night I was mugged.
I had finished up rehearsal for a show, and it had been a long week. I stopped at a local restaurant for some food. As I walked home, only one block away from the restaurant, I crossed the street and felt someone behind me. A man ran at me from behind and tried to pull me to the ground. He was joined by another man, and they refused to let me go until I gave them money.
I was feet away from my front door.
In the weeks that followed, I realized I was terrified to walk home, especially in the dark, because the men had attacked me right outside my door. Every time I walked alone, I would anxiously look over my shoulders and almost run to my front door, fumbling for the keys and praying no one came up behind me. The anxiety was taking its toll, and a few weeks later I decided to more intentionally protect my mental and physical wellbeing- I wasn’t going to walk around alone after 9 PM. If I was out, that meant asking someone to walk me home, or taking a car. I put major boundaries in place so that I could feel safer.
Boundaries help support our personal wellbeing, especially during times of high stress. They are limits, or simply: what’s ok and what’s not ok. What we are willing to do in any given situation, and what we aren’t willing to do. Boundaries are a great way of providing protection and stability, both mentally and physically.
Right now, our nervous systems are going haywire.
Your body can feel everything happening around you- it can feel the uncertainty and the fear. Your nervous system is getting lots of messages, constantly. Having trouble sleeping? High anxiety or bouts of depression? Feelings of fear, or lack of hope? It could be your nervous system getting stuck, and boundaries can help.
One boundary I put in place with the pandemic is reading or watching one news/political story a day. And it has really helped. I still feel informed and up to date about what is happening, and I’m taking care of my mental health. A win win in a lose lose kinda year.
I encourage you to continue cultivating safety through boundaries. Practice tapping into the deep, ancient knowledge you hold within. Today, take 5 minutes to check in with your body. Ask yourself: Is there a boundary that needs to be put in place to help me feel safe? Where can I create support for myself?
Let me know how it goes! And if you are looking for more information or resources on boundaries, I have listed some below.