Yesterday morning, I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours with my amazing horse, G. This was my first early morning ride this spring (appropriately timed on the first day after the spring equinox).
You see, I am a morning person by nature, but because of winter weather, my work schedule, and other time demands over the past few months, I have been getting to the barn later in the afternoon when my energy level can be less than optimal.
Well, the beautiful morning weather and the need for social distancing created the perfect opportunity to get to the barn bright and early when the dew was still on the grass, G was quietly munching hay, and the air was cool and crisp.
I was in heaven to say the least.
As I was playing with G (we do lots of play and positive reinforcement training), it occurred to me that so much of our interactions involve curiosity and possibility. For example, when he starts playing with something or seeks information through curious behavior, he is rewarded handsomely with treats.
I have worked with other horses who have experienced more fear based training and they may not play or seek out new possibilities.
Their behavior is structured to prevent negative reinforcement or punishment.
These horses operate from a place of fear, whereas horses like G, who have been rewarded for being playful, working from a place of curiosity and possibility, look for ways to interact that will give him the reward that he is seeking.
Sometimes the actual horse behaviors (standing quietly when asked, moving over with slight pressure to their sides, etc.) may appear the same to an observer.
However, the mindset of the horse and the way the horse views the world and his situation is quite different.
So, I ask you as you are dealing with everything surrounding COVID-19,
“Are you responding from a place of fear or one of curiosity and possibility?”
Fear language looks like this (you fill in the blanks for yourself):
If I can’t _______________, then _________________.
If I lose ____________________, then I won’t be able to __________________.
Curiosity and Possibility language looks like this (you fill in the blanks):
Since I can’t ________________________, it may give me time to ________________.
Without the burden of _______________, I can explore ways to do ______________.
So, ask yourself how you want to approach the current situation that we find ourselves in today. Right now, everything may hinge on the decisions and choices we make in this moment.
I know that everyone is rushing around to fill the voids made by social distancing, but ask yourself this “Do I really need to fill every minute with something?”
Could this be our opportunity to take stock of what is really important to us?
I challenge you to grab a cup of lemon balm tea (great for calming the nervous system) and take a good hard look at your core values. Spending time on activities that align with your values will help you feel grounded and centered. Letting go of the “I should” thoughts and behaviors will give you time to focus on activities that make your heart happy. If I can support you in any way, please REACH OUT and let me know.
Be Well, Julie & G
Can you find the 'positive' in this moment?
Here in southeastern NC, we are quite familiar with dealing with weather disasters like hurricanes, which can paralyze our area for days or weeks. However, most of the time, other areas of the state or country can provide relief in the way of supplies and support services that help to get things back to normal rather quickly.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented experience that most of us in this country have fortunately not experienced in the past. As a result, you can’t watch the news, read the paper, or link to the internet without being bombarded with images of maps or government agencies telling us just how critical the situation is worldwide. Travel is stressful, significant events (yes, even sporting events) canceled, and health care organizations are overwhelmed.
I have struggled with balancing my need to reach out to each of you to offer support and information with my concern that you might already be on overload. So, today I would like to suggest that perhaps in these challenging times, we ask ourselves
“What might be positive in this situation that we may not be able to see at this time?”
Please understand, I am not making light of school closings, travel restrictions, deaths related to this virus, or financial struggles affecting everyone. However, if you can’t travel or attend to most of the things on your schedule, what might you do with your ‘spare’ time?
I suggest that you use this time to step up your daily self-care routine.
While diligent handwashing, face touch avoidance, and social distancing are somewhat effective in preventing viral spread, I would like to suggest some other self-care strategies that you can use to boost your immune response. With a little practice, you might even continue these strategies into the future (when the virus is no longer a threat).
First, modulate the stress and fear that seems to be spreading as fast as the virus itself. Anxiety and fear can compromise your immune response leaving you more vulnerable to infection in the long term. Strategies to decrease the cortisol release associated with stress can mitigate the effect.
I would like to suggest that you:
If you need any additional support or information, please reach out to me. At this time, I am continuing to see clients in my office with some restrictions. This pandemic is going to affect everyone on some level, but I know that if we all work together, we can weather this storm. Be well and reach out if you need additional help or support.