Why Do I Feel So Weird?
Could it be traumatic stress?
Lately, I've found that I don't have a lot of energy or much motivation. Sometimes just sitting on the back patio or looking out the window is all I can manage. And it's no wonder, given everything we have all been through this year; dear friends who've lost a loved one, the fear of getting a terrible disease, the election, and post-election frenzy. I've decided that I need to take some time to heal, give myself some space because what we've been through is trauma.
What is Trauma?
Any event that shatters your sense of safety can leave you feeling traumatized, and this past year has been a long haul on that path. Wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings are all reminders of just how vulnerable we are. And now that vaccines are here, the end of the traumatic event is in sight, but not necessarily the end of our trauma.
A Normal Reaction to Abnormal Events – Traumatic Stress.
We may feel shock, confusion, and fear. We might feel numb or overwhelmed by a host of conflicting emotions, sometimes all at once. Round-the-clock news and social media coverage mean that we’re all bombarded with horrific images of tragedy, suffering, and loss almost the instant they occur anywhere in the world.
Traumatic stress can shatter our sense of security, leaving us feeling helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world. We may feel physically and emotionally drained, overcome with grief, or find it difficult to focus, sleep, or control our temper. Often, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress and any unpleasant physical symptoms fade as life gradually returns to normal. (Helpguide.org)
What can I do?
A. Minimize Media Exposure
The trick I learned with Facebook Algorithms – Pay attention to what you love.
On Facebook, I wondered why I was always seeing posts from politicians and all sorts of hateful comments from people. My daughter, Kara, told me that because of Facebook’s algorithm, I was seeing the posts I paid attention to by my likes and comments. So, I joined the Ohio Nature Lovers Group and a few other nature and sketching groups. I focused my attention not only on "liking" posts of birds, hikers, and people's drawings, but also commenting on them as well. Miraculously, now the first 20 or 30 posts in my news feed are full of eagles in flight, owls in trees, a wonderful hike someone took, or a sketch of a beautiful village somewhere.
B. Get Moving
Hike at the Big Darby Nature Preserve, the wonders and discoveries in the woods.
It was a surprising find last week when Mary and I detoured off of Rt. 33 near Bellefontaine and discovered a beautiful little Nature Preserve. We had just been walking at the Glacier Ridge Metro Park in Columbus and had a picnic there as well. But instead of racing back home, we stopped to look at the Big Darby Creek Nature Preserve near Bellefontaine. What a surprise to find this beautiful nature preserve with a well-marked trail, boardwalks, and overlooks. With every step we took into the wilderness, our spirits lifted.
C. Connect with People
Volunteering at the vaccine clinics, there is a feeling of relief.
I’ve volunteered at four Allen County Health Department vaccine clinics which served over 1400 people. Everyone is so happy to be getting the shot. One guy told me he'd been waiting a long time for this opportunity. There are often 15 to 20 volunteers helping people find their way, fill out paperwork, create an atmosphere of welcome, kindness, efficiency, and compassion. I always feel so much better at the end of my volunteer shift. Connecting with friends and family regularly is an important way to feeling more normal.
By the way, if you’d like to help, there is always the need for more volunteers. Beginning in April, Allen County is a site for mass vaccination clinics. Go to Ohio Responds to sign up and become a volunteer.
Here are three easy things any of us can do but it means you have to become a Ninja and take action.
Manage media exposure.
Be kind to yourself.
Take some time for yourself.
Go easy on yourself.
You’ve had a tough year.
You deserve it.