I’m a pretty positive-minded person. I believe I am because of a combination of my DNA, my upbringing, and my commitment to focusing on happy habits (8 things happy people do differently). However, after going down the enneagram rabbit hole, I also see that I’m very strongly a type 7. Being a 7 certainly has its strengths (upbeat! playful! spontaneous! fun loving!), but there are clear shortcomings, too (like being scatterbrained and impulsive).
One of these shortcomings is the need to avoid emotional pain. This is something I honestly never really recognized about myself, but as I dug more into the enneagram, it was like reading an owner’s manual of ME.
I realized that I have very clear methods of avoiding emotional discomfort that I never noticed before. Some of these include trying to lighten the mood of a tense room with a joke or a change in topic, or keeping myself super busy so there is no time to feel discomfort. It’s not pretending that everything is fine; it’s a deeply engrained self-protection strategy and one that I don’t even realize I do.
In the spirit of “when we know better, we do better,” I’ve tried to give myself grace in this season of grief to use some coping techniques (distraction and filling my day is a personal favorite). However, I’ve also pushed myself for growth and encouraged myself to learn to just sit still and feel the anguish of losing someone that was so hugely important in my life. And you know what? That’s really freaking hard for me.
Still, I’m doing it. When the breakdown comes out of nowhere because a certain song comes on, I’ve stopped and just let the tears flow. It hurts. But I hope that the pain will lead to healing more than the easier road for me to take, which would be to find quick distraction.
Other things are helping me with this journey of self growth during a challenging time as well. Here are the four things helping me through tough times lately, in no particular order.
Writing. I process life through writing and that process takes many forms. I love writing in this space and while not every post is deeply personal, sharing life and feeling connected to you is an incredible gift to me. I also write daily in my One Line a Day Journal.
I started using this only two months back and it’s a great fit for me. While in my mind I’d love to keep pages and pages of my scribbled daily thoughts, my current daily routine doesn’t allow for that kind of expansive writing. However, a couple sentences a day is attainable and encourages me to stay consistent instead of stressing me out. Some entries are light and breezy about what we did that day, some are funny things the girls said or something sweet David did, and some are filled with such anguish I haven’t been able to go back and read them again yet. But still, I’m glad it’s all in there, recorded.
CBD. I’ve been using CBD products off and on for a long time now- maybe 1-2 years? (Read my full post on CBD) I tried many different brands but for the past 6 months I’ve been brand loyal to Joy Organics for the simple fact that I can actually feel a difference with their products. My favorite products are their CBD gummies (be aware, they have a sugar coating which makes them delicious, but not everyone might love that), their CBD soft gels, and their CBD bath bombs.
I usually take it late afternoon/evening on days when I just feel on edge, overly emotional, or stressed. I generally take 20 mg (2 soft gels or 2 gummies). Yes, I can feel a physical difference. There is obviously no high (there is no THC in the products), but it takes the edge off for me and makes me feel more peaceful and relaxed.
If you want to give them a try, you can use the code AHS15 for 15% off your order.
Laughing. Tiktok. Oh Tiktok. Is it a teen thing that I have no business being on? Maybe, but much like I’ve heard people mentally escape through funny animal videos on youtube during hard times, Tiktok has been my mental escape. I crack up at the cute animals, get the songs stuck in my head, and occasionally try to make one myself (why yes, I have tried to learn some of the dances). It’s silly and though I probably have wasted hours on the app at this point, it makes me laugh and I appreciate that.
Embracing slow. I know the world looks very different for everyone, but in our community, it’s still sign up time for many kid activities. However, at this point, I’m not sure we will sign up for any. Not because of fear, but because the forced slower pace of life has proven to be a good fit for us. Without rushing from activity to activity we’ve found time to just be. We’ve also played more board games, been OK with having the random later nights out on the water, and less pressure of deadlines.
The idea of piano lessons and soccer still float around in my head, but at time stage of the game we’re enjoying the chill pace of things, especially now that we’ve started our new school year for the girls.
I am aware of how hard this year has been for so many, so I’m curious- what helps you during tough times? Share with me in the comments!
I feel like I could add things like friends and family, a new flavor or tea, consistent workouts, a good homemade dinner, or a new candle to my list too, because those always make me smile!
I’m a 7 too and hate feeling my feelings! I didn’t learn this on my own but a great therapist pointed it out to me. In the past I would keep myself too busy to feel things but I am trying to change that. Its difficult and takes time but so worth it. I am learning that feeling sad/angry/disappointed won’t kill me and its normal but I still don’t like it. I used to run from any kind of awkward situation or conversation but that only makes things worse in the long run. Its all a process!
Brittany Dixon says
It’s nice knowing that someone out there can relate! 🙂
My personality is to fall into the emotional rabbit hole – I feel every feeling so intensely and have no energy to run from it so it often becomes debilitating. While this is good for the fact I often work through things quicker than others, it can push me off course for quite some time (which is hard given I’m a strong type A). I have read about CBD from others and appreciate you bringing this up. I hope you continue to move forward without your father in a positive way. Mine passed away when he was 35 and I was 5 years old. I’ve found I have grieved him more than once, and in different ways, over the years as each stage of life gives me a different reason to mourn our lost memories. You certainly never get over it, you just learn to swim through it (while coming close to drowning along the way).
Brittany Dixon says
I’m so sorry you lost your dad so young. That’s heartbreaking. I can already see what you pointed out- that you never really get over it. In a way that’s painful, but in another way, it’s beautiful because it means the love never goes away either. Thanks for your kindness <3
I’ve been more emotional during this covid time partly because I don’t like uncertainty. Sometime small things kick me to an emotional rabbit hole. Ways I’m dealing with:
– writing daily blogs and focus on what I’m grateful
– do crafting (monotonous activities)
– spend time with my girls
– run run run
– ensure a good night sleep
– cuddling time with husband to chat or just be together
Brittany Dixon says
Those are beautiful ways to deal! What kind of crafting are you doing? I keep thinking I’d like to try to do more of that.
I love your breakdown and strategy for managing tough times: record thoughts, relax your body, laugh and keep things simple. What a beautiful process to embrace! The tough moments come to me in waves. Somedays its just hard to get going. I throw myself into chores if I can. Having some control over something helps me mentally. Emotionally, though, I haven’t been able to figure out what would help. Sometimes a perfect cup of coffee early in the morning before everyone wakes up helps. Sometimes planning our homeschool stuff helps me find a focus. I’m still learning and struggling everyday.
Brittany Dixon says
You are not alone in your struggles. I find the hardest part is the unpredictability of grief. Sometimes I feel really good, then WHAM, it hits me out of nowhere. Sending you a big hug and a perfect cup of coffee to start your Wednesday with 🙂
Your writing and wanting to write is a gift. I recently found a journal (three pages–does that count as writing a journal :)?–that I wrote 2 1/2 years ago right after dad was diagnosed and nothing since–until a couple of days ago. It was so hard to read what I wrote because it brings back all those memories. I tend to avoid pain–emotional or physical–but now avoidance is not possible. I have found at times I needed to avoid the pain until I had the strength to handle it. It took me days before I could listen to the last VM dad left me. I can only read the cards he has sent me for the last 43 years, a few at a time. The same goes with looking at pictures. I now have found time (and the strength) to sit and feel the pain, the hurt, the missing him. Sometimes it means sitting on the dock at 11 p.m. looking at the sky, and remembering that dad told me to look at the brightest star and that would be him winking at me. Sometimes it is sitting in a hospital parking lot because it is the closest I can be to where we were together last. The things that have helped me the most besides the love and support of family and friends are as follows:
1. Walking or working in the garden-being out in the fresh air and
2. Reading–Reading a couple of grief related books–Option B and Finding
Meaning. And then I usually have a mindless entertaining
4. Reminding myself of how many things I have to be grateful for.
These don’t take away the grief but they do help make the edges less sharp.
You only asked for four but I have a 5th 🙂 Started watching Frankie and Grace. This series makes me laugh–much better than watching the news!
Brittany Dixon says
Mom! Tears in my eyes as I read this. Love you so much. I have listened to Dad’s voicemails too, but only once. So hard but also so wonderful to hear his voice. Can’t wait to hug you again soon!
Ways I’ve been dealing:
-first i was aiming for yoga 3x a week, but i have moved to daily yoga & love it.
-daily writing. Some days more than other but always something.
– get outside daily – walk, bike, hike, boat, lake, pool, yard work, fresh air and vitamin D really do make a difference for me.
– a chat with a friend (especially when I want to retreat.) I can definitely be introverted but sometimes I neeeeed to chat it out and don’t even realize and then feel better after!!
– reading – self-help, fiction, research…. anything!
Brittany Dixon says
Loved getting to chat with you yesterday! And your yoga is so inspiring to me. I need to get on it… maybe even just one day a week 🙂