Have you found your way to being comfortable in the ‘new normal’? The dreadful onset of the pandemic is now well over a year behind us. It’s a given that we’ve had to find a way to move on with our lives. Significant changes in our habits, including health and safety practices, are well-embedded in our daily routines by now. But for many, the inner recovery of the sense of ‘normal’ is yet to come. This brings the question, how do we find our way to being comfortable…. without anxiety, fear, or hard shells of separation…. in this ever-changing, world of the ‘new normal’?

Recognize your own mental, emotional, and physical stances.  How are you holding yourself during your day, or when you go out into the closer proximity of others?

If you’re like me, you might find that you’ve been holding a subtle, leftover stance of being extra guarded. Perhaps your body language is closed down, or you are on an intensified alert mentally, even though the threat has been pushed back by vaccination and social distancing. Is your breathing shallow and tight? Do you find yourself looking away from others, or being exhausted after being in public, such as going to the grocery store? How is your deeper emotional stance? Is there lingering fear, anxiety or stress?  If so, please understand it is perfectly normal. And, the first step to releasing this defensive and energy-draining stance, is recognition

The effects of chronic stress, such as subtle fears and anxieties normal to a pandemic threat, are detrimental to our well being. This unresolved stress settles into every fiber, both in the physical and subtle realms. By recognizing the patterns we hold in our mind, heart, and body, the choice and power of holding or releasing them becomes ours.

Release and relax! Bring your attention to the over-worked, inner guard and allow yourself to consciously relax your stance. By all means, practice safety protocols, but recognize when the stress response is NOT needed, and make a practice of releasing tension and relaxing your stance to bring new energy and vitality into your being.

Here’s a few tips to get you started in releasing and over-guarded stance causing stress or tension.

Mental Stance- Reframe your thinking. NOTICE what your thoughts are, or even the energy behind the thoughts. What are they saying in the background? Is there a newsreel of unsettling information causing a fight or flight alert in the deeper part of the brain?

 Reframe fear-based, or anxiety provoking thinking with reassuring thoughts.  I am safe. I am secure. All is well. 

By creating positive self-talk and affirmations, we reassure our deeper brain that all is well and begin to relax our inner landscape. Have you tried talking to your inner self as you would a dear child you loved, and explain the new situation?

“I know there has been a very real threat, and that you’ve been uncomfortable and afraid. It’s ok. I’m here for you. We’re taking all the precautions we can and are being very safe in the world.” In this way, take a few minutes to lovingly speak to your mind and offer reassurance. It may seem odd to do, but give it a try. You might feel a deep sigh of relief!

Emotional Stance- Allow yourself to FEEL your feelings. It is NORMAL to have a huge range of uncomfortable feelings in regard to a global threat, and just because we’re acting with the best scientific information available doesn’t mean we feel good about the situation. Of course there are feelings. But by squashing down the feelings because we KNOW better, we perpetuate and give them strength. In turn, this takes up our energy, and causes a low-grade stress. Also, feelings which are suppressed do not go away, but tend to grow stronger.

When feelings arise, practice a few deep breaths, exhaling long to release held emotions. 

Also, please share your feelings with a trusted loved one. Sometimes we don’t want to bother with feelings when we rationally “know better.” But again, this is not a good strategy. By sharing what’s happening inside we often find that others are also going through similar feelings, and gain both the support and release needed to move forward freely.

You’re not alone! Although many of us have been in various degrees of isolation, most of us have experienced a kind of emotional trauma at the subtle level. The pandemic trauma response is real, and there are many resources now available online. Here’s a helpful article. If you find yourself struggling with emotions such as lingering anxiety and fear, please seek help. Every one of us has been hit by this global threat, whether directly affected or not. Every one of us deserves the care, comfort, and release of the trauma induced emotions, whether overt or subtle.

We must be kind and gentle to ourselves to  let go of as much of the trauma as we can in order to get comfortable with the new normal way of being, and move forward with our lives.

Physical Stance- How’s your posture? Are your shoulders up by your ears? Are you holding back breathing fully? Is your head hunched forward over your neck, scanning back and forth to check for threats? You may laugh, but notice if this kind of subtle body language is happening! Perhaps there is a clenched jaw or abdomen. Even while writing this, I noticed tension in the back of the neck as I got in touch with my own sense of physical security in the world.

Our bodies EMbody our mental stance and feelings. Conversely, by relaxing the body, we can release mental-emotional build up.

Practice watching your body stance and posture to see if it’s preparing for fight or flight. Stretch and move regularly throughout the day. Combine mindfulness and a deep clearing breath, and get out in nature every day! Studies on Japanese Forest Bathing show us that even 15 minutes of quality nature time during the day has remarkably positive health effects.

Simply taking time to stop and BE in the nature all around us deeply promotes our well-being. Breathing in a few moments of noticing the colors of the sky, the dance of the trees, or even a dandelion in the side walk,  soothes our systems and brings us into the present, healing moment.

Allowing ourselves to recognize and begin to release the embedded, protective stances in our mental, emotional, and physical being brought about by the global pandemic is a vital step to recovering a sense of comfort in the new normal of our world. While we do want to take care and protect ourselves and our loved ones, we must also be mindful of how much we may holding ourselves on high alert. By bringing our loving attention to these aspects of our being, we can shift our experience from any lingering sense of dread to a more expanded, relaxed, and comfortable way of being in this world. This attention and care to our own stance of being will both welcome and help ourselves and others in becoming comfortable with the “new normal”, where we can be simply grateful for being.