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As a disabled person who was born with a mild form of muscular dystrophy, I have a disability that compromises my mobility and since my early ’30’s (deep into 40’s now) also impacts my respiratory muscles and makes me part of the population that is painfully aware about having a pre-existing condition. My health could be negatively-impacted by a positive test result from such an invisible menace known as Coronavirus.
And although I may be used to waiting it out, feeling sullen sometimes sneaks in every now and then. Some days I’m just not feeling like I’ve got it all figured out and run the gamut of emotions. I’m human, damn it. Oh well.
So I sit atop my bed cross-legged and ponder the day. On this day the light seeps in and bathes my bedroom lifting any impending bit of heaviness; it’s a good day. I’ve developed some new habits as well. The following have become a new ritual of sorts presently keeping my mood and mental health buoyant and intact.
Awaking early, light stretch, and gratitude prayer
Over the past few months I’ve been waking up before 6 am right around when the sunrises here on the east coast. It’s only been a slight bit of an adjustment because I was used to sleeping in until around 8 am. When I arise and plant my feet down I say a simple “thank you” prayer for waking up and take a few deeps breaths, and do a light stretch. Very simple acts that often help to motivate me to move forward, physically and metaphorically.
Next, after restroom business, I neaten up the bed and slide the window open. Then while peering out take some long deep breaths of the crisp morning air while listening to the birds provide their concert to accompany the scene. The focus on nature in all it’s beauty and simplicity is such a lovely distraction from the barrage of doom and gloom news.
I’ve found that it helps to break down the day and not ingest too much info regarding pandemic coverage. It’s better to take things in bite-size portions because you can easily become beaten-down by the battering ram of “breaking news” across media landscape. This is the balance that presently works for me.
Set the mood and intention for the day
Back atop the bed before slapping open the laptop, I set the intention for the day and declare it a good day going forward. It doesn’t always feel like a “good day” but I often find that concentrating on what I believe a good day to be and what that feels like becomes more important because I begin to relax into that idea, if at first it doesn’t feel that way automatically.
I try to focus on being compassionate with myself and curating my thoughts in the same manner I choose picking an outfit, thoughts that make me feel lighter and joyous, don’t give frown lines and make me look frumpy. I also do this when scanning social media pages and post a mix and balance of things I find important to know and others that bring me joy and give a spirit-boost like a shot of serotonin.
I might be lounging in sweatpants and pullover shirts with unkempt hair and I’m quite alright not giving a damn about it, relaxed and semi-unbothered. It’s a balance for sure and beyond the binary of anxiety and complete calm.
Lean on elder wisdom and advice in trying times
Part of the reason for being semi-unbothered is remembering the sage advice my dad always doled out. He was born and raised in Jim Crow-era south, served in Navy during the Vietnam war, and was a Black man who encountered and lived through his fair share of setbacks, structural racism, seen untold things and had formed an admirable resolve and outlook. He found a way to smile and flash those dimples that dotted his cheeks and keep joy to keep going.
“Don’t worry about things you can’t change and have no control over” is what he often imparted especially during troubling times. It’s a mainstay that I pull from my pillbox of sage advice whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed.
The ancestors often knew what it took to muster through and when they didn’t, kept moving clinging to slivers of hope and “this too shall pass.” They often leaned to their grit and looked out for one another, created and used mutual aid networks in their arsenal of coping mechanisms and strategies. It’s what I’ll use to carry me through now and when other troubling times filled with uncertainty are sure to come. The crown feels lighter and the cells swirl and radiate brighter absorbing that.