I couldn’t help but smile at a pack of corona beers atop a friends fridge this week as we met to play games having worked from home for the day and feeling isolated. We felt guilty for meeting. Almost unsure as to whether what we were doing was okay or not? Aware that actually we hadn’t had any contact with anyone really for a while, other than at supermarkets! Which were proving more and more interesting places.
There have been such huge changes to my routines and what is acceptable and what is not. The rhythm of life that I was only just getting used to in my new work, disappeared suddenly this week!
It has massively unsettled me and at times I have found this really challenging my own mental health, knowing that for me to function in the world healthily, has always taken a huge amount of interaction with others and touch. Wow, touch! I have never taken touch for granted. It has always been special to me and now it has been removed as acceptable interaction. I totally appreciate the reasons why…but inside my heart is breaking just a little bit. I have just promised a friend a real hug just as soon as we are allowed to be within close enough distance to do so. Who could have imagined this scenario?
Certainly not me when I left my permanent teaching job in December, to embark on my new self-employment adventure as a Play Therapist. Everything inside me wants to shout that this was a bad plan as the timing is proving rather interesting on income which was already delicately balancing. But I have faith that somehow, this will all work out just fine. And maybe now is the perfect time to be supporting families and children and so I am grateful that I have new skills and transformational solutions to offer and share to those without answers to fears, stresses, behaviour struggles, relationship difficulties…
This week, however, the whole situation sent me into a nose dive spin and panic about work and finances as sessions were cancelled and what on earth I was going to do… but also a huge sense of responsibility to make sure that I was offering what I could to families at this time.
If I was struggling, I knew that my clients would be struggling even more so. And that if their parents were struggling, this was going straight to them- maybe in quicker, sharper responses, tones of voices, big changes of plans and routines. Maybe even to the selection of food they can eat.
I wonder how many parents have had to ask their children to not use as much loo roll and other resources? For families on low-income, they are well versed in this of course. But they face even more interesting challenges now, when they’ve got the money, where do they go to get their essentials? Everyone else has hoarded it all. Foodbanks were already reaching their limits, even before this pandemic arrived. My local food bank was seeing more and more families coming through their doors this winter and had given more than ever before, before any C words were uttered. Their function is vital. And I will be doing what I can.
However, this morning a lovely therapist, Lara Kasza, who I am looking forward to meeting one day (I imagine our June training will be cancelled), did a Facebook live post which was just perfect. She shared the very real strategies that she was going through to help her not to follow the crowd into the nose dive spin!
She reminded us to just slow down.
To put our feet on the ground and feel the earth beneath us…have a try.
The ground is still there! It hasn’t gone anywhere.
She reminded us to think about our breathing. Air is so important. Breathing is something we do naturally but full deep breathes are rarely taken without slowing down and intentionally doing so. Big full intentional breaths can be so centring (I was convinced that was spelt centering)…so important at releasing chemicals which actually boost us and bring us peace.
In that place of grounded centring, you can speak positivity to yourself instead of negativity and panic.
You can make intentional choices instead of reactive pressured choices.
You can remember what it felt like just a three weeks ago when no one really knew that anything was on its way.
You’ll be more able to adapt, and as my friend said, pivot. Facing a new direction but with assurance.
One of the reasons I love art and dance so much, is that they also give me those same peaceful, centring moments. Focused bliss!
And, unsurprisingly for someone who loves touch, a fuller body experience. It is very difficult to be still when expressing yourself creatively.
So, when you need those moments, I guarantee you, your children are needing those moments too! How good are any of us at really teaching our children to breathe full breathes? And stopping to really notice the ground beneath our feet?
What a blessing it is.
For many of us, we assign that blessing to God. And in those moments, talking to our creator is steadying, grounding and repurposing. And as a bonus gives Him a chance to speak into the madness too.
However you ground yourself and bring the calm, please remember to include your children and invite them into your moment if you can. You might need to adapt this. They need these moments but might have no clue how to achieve them.
Perhaps try explaining breathing in to the depths of your lungs like inflating their internal balloons, and slowly letting the air out, like blowing out lots of candle and do this for longer periods each day. Try building up to a whole 2 minutes. If they are older, they could even count in for four, hold for four and out for four.
Apparently, if you can do this then it’s a good sign that you are all well, healthy and not infected with a certain pneumonia inducing virus.
As you plan in your days, intentionally plan in some creative time to continue that peaceful moment and if you end up with gallons of drawings, I’ll gladly take some off you! But I am sure that I am not the only one. Do try and do art, for creativity’s sake and not as a lesson on drawing technique. There is 100% a place for learning art skills, but more often than not, children want to use it as an expressive medium, not to be judged, not to be critiqued, but to just express something which was on their mind, or to reach a peaceful flow of focus.
Little play therapist tip- if you do not know what it is that your child has drawn, as is the case sometimes, although until someone tells you what it is, even if it looks like a rocket, it could in fact be something completely different and only the owner of the drawing truly knows their intentions. So my suggestion in the minefield of wondering what it might be is to ask them if they would like to give their drawing a title.
“I wonder what we could call this picture?”
That way they are not feeling judged by what they produced… and how on earth could you not see that they had drawn the world when it resembles something round but is purple!
Titles for pictures can be very revealing about the child’s inner world and how they are viewing things and can provide an opportunity for a conversation about how they perceive things but this is not always easy to do. I’d be more than happy to discuss how to do this, or to even analyse children’s drawings…I really love to wonder about what they might be communicating in them and loved learning about how to analyse children’s drawings in my training.
Really hope this post has been helpful and look forward to hearing how you enjoy slowing down, feeling the ground, breathing more deeply and speaking positively over yourself. Get creative and continue that peaceful moment through your whole body.
Creativity comes in many forms and even just writing this while listening to some favourite music, I can feel an even deeper sense of peace envisaging families taking breaths and taking time to notice the ground which is still there.
With much love and peace during this unsettling time, I am hoping to learn how to pivot gracefully.