My Amygdala Hijacked my Weekend and Beat Bobby Flay

Sometimes we have hard days.  This weekend has been three hard days for me.  I had great plans to get some stuff done, plan some classes, work on courses and do some writing.  And it all went for a crap after I got an email at work on Friday that cut me right to the core.  I had a visceral reaction – that has continued for three days.  I know my body well enough to recognize that I’ve spent a good portion of my weekend in the sympathetic nervous system, also called “fight or flight” because my stomach has been off (I actually couldn’t stomach wine, which I guess is good prep for Dry February) and I can’t get warm; I know when I get cold, right to my bones, that I’m upset and stressed. 

And that happens to us sometimes.  And it’s okay to “turtle” for awhile to process something that affects you.  I’m happy that I have good coping skills. I still exercised, journaled and got some time walking outside. I even managed to hold myself together to teach my yoga class Saturday morning; and if you were there, know that I had a hard time keeping it together for the first five to ten minutes before I got into the groove.  

I spent some time questioning whether I felt like an imposter because I teach people how to manage stress and how to implement coping skills.  But I know I’m not.  I had something happen that truly affected me and my mental wellbeing.  It knocked me around, kind of like a punch to my gut, but I am proof that being able to do even the bare minimum in terms of coping strategies made sure that I didn’t just sit on my couch crying all weekend (although I still did my fair share of that while binge watching Beat Bobby Flay – for the record he gets beat about 2 out of 10 times). 

Even without the coping skills I have, it’s okay to have times when you just need to rest, regroup and process.  I see this as a bump and not a set back, for my mental health anyway.  The impact of what happened remains to be seen.  I’ve gone through multiple scenarios in my head which has helped me to sort out how I could react to this event.  I’d like to think I’m not worrying so much as strategizing. 

The point is, though, that we all have times when things are hard.  Sometimes really hard.  Take right now when hard things also have a pandemic happening around them.  And it’s okay to take some time for yourself.  That is the essence of self-care.  Self-care is what you need in that moment, whether it’s going for a walk, napping on the couch, binge watching Beat Bobby Flay or writing it all out.  You Do You as Sarah Knight so eloquently says in her book of the same title.  

And I’m not going to apologize for taking the additional time that I need to deal with this issue in the coming days.  A part of me actually feels broken and I’ve lost a whole lot of trust.  It’s going to take time.  It’s going to involve some decisions.  It’s going to require self-care.  

You can have the wherewithal to recognize that your reaction to something that affects you like this is automatic, it’s your amygdala, your primal brain, hijacking you.  And in that moment, even with that awareness, you may not be able to do anything.  That’s still okay.  Sometimes we need time.  But the beauty of awareness is that eventually we can decide to take steps to take care of ourselves.  

At the end of the day, my friends, just keep swimming.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Take baby steps to do what you need to do to take care of you…no one else is going to do it for you.  I can hold your hand.  I can watch Bobby Flay with you. I will continue teaching people and helping people so when they get hit with a gut punch they can recover, eventually, too. 

According to John Heywood’s proverb, “A man maie well bring a horse to the water, but he can not make him drinke without he will” (spelled as proverbs tend to be). But when we are armed with awareness, we get all the power back; we get to decide.  Let’s take care of ourselves, cherish our mental wellbeing and empower ourselves.