Anyone else find they are experiencing new sides to their personality after the last two years? Maybe it’s not a personality shift, but instead a reaction to what our persons have been through since March of 2020.
I attended a wedding a few weekends ago that required air travel. I used to love air travel. I got excited for the act of going to an airport, being on a plane, the whole deal, I loved tit. I know, I’m weird.
For this trip, my first solo flight since the pandemic, I was in a full panic. Not only would I have to board a plane, but I’d have to be in crowds of people and I haven’t been great at that since 2020 either. (Ask me sometime about the Sea Hear Now concert experience of 2021.)
The anxiety kicked up two weeks prior, with me trying to think of every excuse not to attend, and it ended with me having to do some serious breathwork on the plane to make it through the flight and my own bad mood before attending the ceremony.
I was so sad to think that maybe I had turned in to someone for whom travel and people-ing, would be difficult going forward.
Then, a funny thing happened. I got swept up in the most gorgeous wedding of two people I adore, had a ball, and took a flight home with zero incident.
It occurred to me that basic life these days is going to feel a bit like exposure therapy.
We’ll need to reacclimate our bodies to activities and events that perhaps felt scary for a few years. Even if we consciously want to do something or see the logic in it being safe, our nervous systems have been programmed differently since March of 2020 and we need to give them some grace while they adjust.
I used breathing, taking breaks and lots of cognitive reframes to get myself through the initial discomfort of both flight and reception. I am not saying any of these are the exact right answer, but they are tools that worked to help me calm my nerves and be able to get on to the good stuff of life without letting anxiety take over.
Also, and I want you to hear this part most, I didn’t beat myself up for it (too much). I recognized that life has been very different over the last few years, so I didn’t get angry at my reactions or succumb to them, and miss out on a really good thing.
We’re supposedly “back to normal” but I know from listening to my clients and even my friends, that I am not the only one reacting this way to situations that used to not feel like anything at all. We are stuck in this weird place of getting our lives back but they are very different than they once were, or we really want them to be.
If you’re experiencing discomfort doing what you used to do, or you’re noticing what was once routine doesn’t feel routine at all, this love note is for you. It will get better. You’ve got what you need to get there. And I’m pulling for you from my corner of the world.
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