Heart palpitating, stomach in knots, unable to stand with shortness of breath, I laid at the top of a mountain look out waiting for the nausea to pass.
Being sensitive to glycemic issues my whole life, I assumed I needed to eat and get my blood sugar regulated. That wasn’t it.
June 2020, having just re-opened my business after mandated closures – the effect of relentless pivoting and adaptation set in. I felt the weight of the world crushing me from all sides and soon I realized – I was having an anxiety attack.
Fear, grief and exhaustion from a pandemic world was beyond my control. I did all the blood work and tests – physiologically I was in great health – mentally not so much. Having worked with a psychologist for years, I again sat back on my Doctor’s couch to work through the collective grief many experienced.
2021, this year, is different.
I find myself blankly staring at my social media feeds scrolling endlessly, checking my e-mail repeatedly and chronically tempting myself with shopping apps – feeling ‘blah’. Sundays used to be a time to plan the week upcoming with goals and aspirations and now Monday brings another week of ‘Ground Hog’s Day’.
My light softly dulls and passion dwindles and a state of stagnation and emptiness can roll in (Languishing is the perfect descriptor.) Emotions of anxiety (‘fight or flight’) easily ignite the flame to react out of anger, fear or frustration. Part of my learning is to not make decisions or communicate from this place. It’s about giving myself the grace to truly see my emotions for what they are and recognize it in others.
Create grace for quiet
Uncomfortable emotions are like an onion skin, when I peel back a layer there is always another emotion underneath. For ‘Type A’ personalities, it’s scary to release control for fear of emotions taking over. Add distractions like electronics or packed schedules and it is crippling. I allow myself grace for quiet to sit with these emotions and see what they are and if they are even mine to carry. We all can often pick up emotions from others especially in public roles or through the media.
Name it, feel it & connect
When we name something, it becomes real. Emotions are always present and we need to connect with them, or they can rule our lives. I’ve found it helpful to name my emotional state to best understand what I need to work through them. We are meant to feel all of this. For me, it’s an indicator to rest, experience nature and unplug.
Celebrate all wins
Life can be daunting. The pandemic has brought immense loss and change. Some days life is literally about putting one foot in front of the other to do the next right thing. I generate hope by returning to the now. Whether I cook an awesome new recipe or organize the junk drawer – celebrating the win cultivates hope. Hope, is the fuel we need to help us move through the uncomfortable moments which in time loosens the grip of anxiety.
Our collective work now is to heal. It’s certainly not a comfortable process and it’s messy at times. Just like laying on a bench at the top of the mountain, we need to hold hope and courageously walk by faith not necessarily sight.
There will be brighter days ahead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Loyal Wooldridge is a Kelowna City Councillor, entrepreneur, and a community advocate elected to Kelowna City Council in 2018; grounded in the power of community, giving back and creating equity for underrepresented voices. He is passionate and driven to realize positive steps forward in social challenges like homelessness, mental health and housing while encouraging positive economic recovery for the region, post pandemic.