How to Be Less Stressed in the Middle of COVIDtime Vacation

How to Be Less Stressed in the Middle of COVIDtime Vacation

What if the present moment is waiting patiently for you to return to it, ready to offer you the relief that your busy, anxious mind easily forgets you will find there?

For those of you in the Northern hemisphere, “Hello, Summer!”.

I’m currently on vacation with my family on an island off the coast of NY.  I’ve been coming to this island for 51 years now. 😳 (It was a bit tricky driving my family here while safely quarantining in order to keep my elderly parents safe upon arrival! Read more about those travel adventures on my social media pages!).

This island has no cars.  The only way to get your luggage from the ferry to the house is on a wagon that we pull by hand. It’s like stepping back in time.

The moment I step foot off that ferry each year, I gulp in the salt air and feel myself coming back home to the moment and to myself. There’s something miraculous about it.

But this year felt different.  Everyone on the ferry wore masks, which was a good thing. But it tempered the normally palpable joy felt by all those heading to the island.

Once on the island, everyone biking or walking outside was donning a mask.  Suddenly the friendly “hellos” were replaced with silence and averted eyes. It became clear that even when I smiled at someone passing me on the boardwalk, it was impossible for them to recognize that I was smiling.

At first, I found myself grieving these changes.  I found it difficult to drop into the peace that normally awaits me here. I felt resentment towards this damn COVID virus.

Anxiety ramped up as my focus shifted to how to fix the uncomfortable parts of this vacation that were getting in the way of us having the expected experience.

I hung out in that place for a day and a half, working hard to figure out impossible solutions to the uncomfortable parts of my experience. I bet you know this place yourself sometimes. And how quietly this focus begins to eat away at the good parts of your experience that are still present, right?

But you know what changed my focus and experience?  Remembering that I can drop out of my anxious, thinking mind and into the present moment I’m in.  That’s a true gift of the present moment, even when the moment also includes undesirable parts.

Going on a biking date with my five-year-old daughter, both of us fully masked, and hearing her declare through her mask, “Mommy, this is so beautiful and peaceful! And I think this is the GOODEST date we ever had together!”. 

Swimming with my nine-year-old daughter as we raced together under the water. Seeing the sheer joy on her face at our finish line. 

Seeing the look on our dog’s face when she met the ocean and ran on the beach for the first time in her life.

Seeing peace settle over my wife’s face and shoulders as she meandered along the beach, watching the sunset and our girls and pup playing in the waves at a time when we’d normally be getting them ready for bed at home.

These are just a few of the moments when the effects of COVIDtime remained, yet peace and joy were equally present and available when I stopped to look for them.

Yes, COVID is changing so much of life for so many people in so many ways!  There’s no denying this.  And the ways we find ourselves in the depths of the unknown about how it will affect these coming months for all of us…well, it’s really uncomfortable.

But what if it turns out relief is tucked right into the middle of the experience you’re trying to escape from right now?

I repeatedly find this.  And I repeatedly forget it. Oh, humanness! But it fills me with appreciation each and every time I rediscover it, sometimes multiple times in a single day!

The present moment is always waiting patiently for us when we return to it, offering us the relief that our busy, anxious minds easily forget we will find there.

So as this strange COVIDtime summer (or winter, for some of you) meanders its way through these next few months, may you notice the COVIDtime differences and give yourself permission to grieve the old ways, as needed.

May you also remember that the present moment NEVER abandons you.  It’s always here, waiting patiently for you to return and ready to offer you its gifts of relief, peace, and joy despite the unknowns and uncomfortable parts that continue to swirl around you.

If you’ve simply needed this reminder and find it easy to bring yourself back into the present moment to tap back into relief and ease your anxiety, fabulous!

But if this reminder sounds great, but it feels impossible to know how to actually shift from your anxious, swirling, fix-it mode mind and into the relief of the present moment, know that you are SO not alone!!  If you feel ready to learn how to do this with ease, shoot me a DM.  I help clients learn to do this all the time and I’d love to help you, too. ❤️

P.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, friend me on Facebook (Emily Colwell) or follow me on Instagram (dr.emily_colwell).  I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!

Warmly,

Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND

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