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  • jacalynn21

Worries to a Smile

It's the end of February. In Wisconsin. And the temperature is in the 60s. People are walking around in shorts.

Admittedly, I had two reactions. This is so nice! And holy crap, something is very, very wrong.

Interestingly, with changes in climate--looking back, you might have noticed a difference today from the winters of yore in your childhood--there's now been a new form of anxiety labeled as "climate anxiety" by researchers. This is complete with a literal assessment to measure it. Now, I wouldn't say I've got anxiety about it per se, but it definitely disconcerting to see t-shirts and flip-flops everywhere.

Regardless of the anxiety, or worry, or creepy-type feeling that feels uncomfy, here's some ideas to manage.

Step 1: Focus on what you can control. For the record, hearing this is somewhat annoying and suggested ad nauseam. But it's still true.

Is there anything you can truly do to fix the source of the worry? If yes, go for it! If it makes you feel empowered, make a plan and put it into action step by step. If not, move on to step 2.

Step 2: If it's not something you can control, it's time to focus on what's right here, right now. You can always, always get a sense of "control" by choosing take some deep breaths and tune into your senses.

How is your breathing right now? Whatever it's like, that's totally okay. Can you slow it down, expand your belly, and breathe out a little slower? What can you hear, see, touch, smell, and taste? Is there a sense that really grounds you back into the present moment?

Step 3: Bring in the self-compassion. Yup, it's time to be kind to yourself and give yourself some comfort.

Kristin Neff breaks down self-compassion in 3 parts. May I be mindful of my thoughts, emotions, and body in this moment--can I experience my feelings and physical sensations as they are, without judgement? May I be kind to myself as I would be to a friend. May I know that I am not alone in what I am feeling or thinking.

Step 4: After these steps, notice if there is anything that is beautiful around you, something to be grateful for (maybe a pet you love, a comforting possession, a favorite food you like, even your breath), or something that can bring a smile to your lips.

For me, that thing that was both beautiful and made me smile was seeing the delicate white snowdrop flowers peaking up through the ground. Even with all my worries, they looked so beautiful, I couldn't help but smile.

Ultimately, I can't fix anything directly. But I can do my part to feel better about my impact on the environment. And I can do that research and do more little bits that together will add up. Even if what it adds up to is feeling better about doing my part, knowing that I'm doing something (step 1). And in the moment, my important part is breathing and grounding into my senses (step 2); being self-compassionate by realizing these are tough thoughts and feelings, they are okay and safe to sit with, and I am not alone (there's 6. something billion people in the world. They may not be sitting right next to me, but I know someone out there feels the way I do); and I can enjoy the snowdrops and the sun on my face.

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