Let’s be real: dealing with politics, social distancing, income, mental health, and everything in between all at once sounds like way too much. And yet, it’s what seems to be plaguing so many of us right now. At least before all this, we could blow off some steam by spending time with family and friends. 

But now, with a second strain of the ‘rona in full swing and with many of us due to wait a while before the vaccine is fully accessible, restrictions are more important  now than ever before.

It’s been almost a year since we all first started sheltering in place and, within that time, many of us have also been fighting for social justice, trying to stay safe, stay employed and stay happy. But with all of this happening to so many of us at the same time, I’ve been wondering…how do you lighten your load when everything feels so heavy?

It wasn’t until recently that I started experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression brought on by the pandemic. I’m grateful to God that this is the most work I’ve ever had and that my woes are not currently financial. However, between marching this past summer, and trying to also take care of myself physically and mentally, I feel like it’s all finally catching up with me. I also recently moved across the country for a change of scenery and to chase my artistic dreams, so maybe that’s having a bit of an impact too. 

In an effort to unravel my feelings, I asked my friends how they cleared their heads. Specifically, I asked how they unwind when they’re too wound up and tense. 

Here’s a little of what they shared with me: 

  1. Lavender everything!
  2. CBD oil 
  3. Going for a walk
  4. Taking a nap
  5. Masturbation

As a big time lavender fan, I keep it around the house in its natural state and in face masks. I recently also purchased a lavender massage oil that I’m excited to continue putting in my bathwater and adding to my body moisturizers. Besides enjoying the actual color, I find that lavender’s calming properties hit the spot. They really help relax your nerves and prepare your body for a good sleep, which is often hard to come by when anxiety and/or depression gnaw at us. 

CBD oil is also another favorite although I don’t use it very often. I’ve had it in teas and chocolate, but I’ve never tried it as a massage oil or in any other form. When I had it in tea, I felt very calm, and like I was floating in the ocean. And this was while I was walking around New York City: one of the least calm places in the world! (lol) 

In chocolate, it made me giggly — although that *might* have been THC chocolate. Still, I’m curious to know more about the benefits of CBD, and feel like now is the perfect time to dive into experimenting with different CBD products.

Going for a walk was a suggestion as well, to which I say: ABSOLUTELY. 

I love walks! On the beach, in the city — basically anywhere, just because of how calming the repeated motion of putting one foot in front of the other feels for me. Jogging can feel calming from time to time, but not when I want to just zen out. 

Walking is definitely doable, whether it’s just around the block or to the corner and back. But nothing too strenuous or demanding unless that’s what you enjoy. It depends on my mood, but I definitely want to do more on-foot exploration around my neighborhood. 

Taking a nap is actually one of my love languages. As much as I enjoy being a busy bee, sleeping is right next to eating as one of my favorite activities. The trick is determining how long of a nap you can or want to take. If you don’t have anything else scheduled for the day, take a nap without setting an alarm and get the amount of sleep that your mind, body and soul desire. (Just talking about naps excites me lol) However, if you do have some errands to run or work to get to, even a timed, thirty-minute to forty-five minute nap could give you a boost— as long you get up right away after it’s done, of course. 

Lastly, masturbation – so, this is an interesting one for me. It used to be that masturbation would throw my sleep off tremendously. I’d wake up with a headache or feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. Nowadays, maybe because we’re working from home or because I’ve perhaps changed my mind about the activity in general, but I can sleep like a baby.

And that’s not to say that it should be limited to before you’re sleeping, whether that’s during the day or during the night. Whenever you choose to do it, I hope that you give yourself the time and space to be present – you deserve it and it makes all the difference (take it from me). 

So you may be wondering how I unwound the other day when I was too tightly wound up: I took a bath, did a face mask and then got to bed a little earlier than usual. I went to bed while watching Princess & the Frog and called it a night

 Admittedly, I woke up not wanting to get out of bed – mostly because it was cold out, but as long as we make the decision to eventually put one step in front of the other, we can move through what we’re feeling. Not rush through! Move through. I’ve learned that feeling your feelings allows you to learn from them and to know how to handle them if you experience them again. 

 Somehow, in all these years of life, I’d developed a habit of trying to hurry up and feel my feelings so I could move on to the ones that felt better or more comfortable. Thankfully, I realized this year that feelings aren’t bad. Sensitivity isn’t bad.

They’re what make us human and, in order to survive the human experience, we must learn how to handle them.

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