Photo by Helena Lopes
By Sharon Marie Lawlor
Connection amongst others has a tremendous affect on our happiness — wouldn’t you agree? In this time of COVID-19, our ability to connect like we were once able to has definitely been hindered.
I know for me that connecting deeply with others happened daily pre-COVID. I was constantly experiencing interpersonal connection through my work, home, lifestyle, and values. Now, it’s more of a rarity when adhering to social distancing and limiting exposure. Gone are the hugs and little touches; it’s even difficult to see other smiles now that masks cover our faces for in-person interactions in public.
My husband did our grocery shopping in the first few months of the lockdown. That meant that I didn’t leave the house or interact face-to-face with others for months. Solely connecting over Zoom, phone calls, texts, and emails were now the new normal. All of this virtual contact meant the world to me, and probably to you too. Everyone seemed to handle the pandemic differently; some craved more connection, others seemed to back away. The naturally introverted seemed to be in heaven wondering where this time alone had been all their lives.
As a super-curious person with a background in science, and as someone who guides clients in their personal journeys, I began looking for patterns in the ways we’ve been adjusting to our current reality. In my research on the topic, I was a bit surprised when the word “trauma” kept coming into my awareness.
Sure, the pandemic has been stressful. It’s daunting new territory for every single one of us. But what’s the difference between excessive stress and trauma? According to Vanessa Long, master coach and founder of the PowerHouse Academy, they’re not that separate. She states:
“The way I see it, we all have a threshold for how much stress we can handle. When the stress we’re under becomes too great — and it can be a single acute moment or a prolonged chronic experience — we switch from handling and processing the stress to being overwhelmed by it. That overwhelm is what is stored as trauma in our bodies.”
Long believes that it’s not about never having trauma or stress, but what matters is being able to move quickly through and out of the trauma. To be, as she says, “in our bodies enough that we have the awareness that something is off and then believing we are worthy of living without trauma.” She asserts that on the other side of trauma lies “presence, freedom, and joy.”
When there is trauma or excessive stress, our lives can become stuck in a repetitive pattern. Our nervous system experiences stress that it cannot process. It’s like an added toxin that our body eventually figures out how to deal with.
Everyone has a different threshold for excessive stress. If we don’t continually clean out these stressors, they accumulate. Water passing through a clean pipe will move much quicker than through a pipe with grimy residue inside that impedes the flow or even blocks it completely. The goal here is to ultimately build resilience.
So, what can we do to help reduce our stress load?
A colleague of mine, W.H., receives massages regularly to help with her stress load. She noticed that increasing the frequency of her massages from every four weeks to every three weeks makes all the difference for her. This helps her be more tolerant and patient with co-workers and the elders she encounters daily at work. She describes massage as a safety valve for her. Z.W., another colleague, decided to protect her energy bubble by limiting social media and negativity from the news.
I too have found that our own self-care right now is imperative. We need to fill our own well first. What nourishes your soul? It’s time for physical movement, grounding exercises, breathwork, baths, dry skin brushing, creativity, gardening, cooking healthy meals, time away from electronics, reading, or a collection of other things.
2) Self-Reflection and Healing
We each need to set aside time for listening to our mind, body, and heart. Stream-of-consciousness writing is described in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron as a beneficial activity that aids creativity, but also as a very useful practice for cleansing what’s inside us and gaining an awareness of our inner selves. Without this, we’re left without a sense of where our compass is pointing. With an activity such as stream-of-consciousness writing, we can determine if the current direction of our compass is where we want to be heading or if we need to alter course.
In an earlier article I wrote called “Surrender,” I share five ways to connect with our own inner tranquil being. These same principles are tremendously helpful for the self-reflection and healing part of our journey, and they can also fill a role in our self-care too.
When it comes to processing trauma or recognizing a need for transformation, sometimes we need professional help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified therapist to guide you on your personalized path when you need extra support.
3) Care for Others
When we’re able to have our own needs met, we’re much more equipped to be of service to others. This is done after our well is full and we’re able to transfer our overflow to someone in need. As the airplane safety videos say, “Always put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others with theirs.”
“When we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection.” ~Daniel Goleman
It can be quite simple. For instance, Z.W., a busy RMT who is also an extrovert, learned that she is very much a kinesthetic person. Not being able to massage clients, share energy, or hug family caused her to become sad and drained. She decided to create some normalcy for herself by giving regular massages to her husband and mom. She also made care packages of baked goods for others and did driveway deliveries for her friends. This helped her stay connected to the important people in her life.
In what ways do you enjoy giving?
“We are all connected to everyone and everything in the universe. Therefore, everything one does as an individual affects the whole. All thoughts, words, images, prayers, blessings, and deeds are listened to by all that is.” ~Serge Kahili King
Connection is a thread here. We all need it; our species depends on it. However, it can look different for each one of us during different stages or stressful periods in our lives. Connections to the self, family, friends, and what I like to call chosen family are all magnificent threads, and you can weave these threads into a beautiful tapestry.
These are exactly the times we were made for. Being able to care for ourselves and others lifts everyone up. Isn’t that what makes for a happy life anyways?
Sharon Marie Lawlor is an intuitive healer transpiring deep transformational healing sessions empowering women to live from their heart. Immersed in the field since 2004.
She is driven by the beauty of nature that has led her desire to want to create a better world. Knowing she was a part of this shift from the young age of seven.
She is a spiritual truth seeker constantly questing for expansion in her own personal growth. Sharon has made it her personal mission to reclaim her inner light by intentionally living a life that fills her soul.
Sharon has an office in Ann Arbor, Michigan working with clients one-on-one. She currently is working on healing arts process videos incorporating all of her wisdoms where she can reach a wider audience online. Visit www.TranquilBeing.com to find out more.