Do you ever notice the lights flicker in your house? Some people might want to point to supernatural phenomena, but flickering is often caused by a power surge. When your home’s electrical system has an influx of energy, usually lights flickering or a pause in internet access are the only impacts. However, if the surge lasts too long or is too strong, your house might experience more serious impacts–destroyed appliances or even a house fire.

Likewise, we handle stress surges in our lives with physical and mental responses. Our surge capacity has evolved to handle brief crises, like seeking shelter when a tornado threatens or sprinting toward a toddler who has climbed too high on the playground. It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all had a surge of change and stress over the past eight months. Many of us may have responded to initial pandemic anxiety with this surge capacity–we stocked food, bought masks, and set up home offices and student workstations.

But then our altered circumstances didn’t return to what we once knew. For months now, we’ve been living, working, and learning differently. Our adrenaline-fueled resolve to respond to a temporary crisis has waned, perhaps negatively impacting our productivity and emotions in its wake. Our surge capacity may be depleted, and we may not know how to respond to this continued change. Some might even describe recent moments as a loss in a way of life

So where do we go from here? We can’t change the realities of living during a pandemic, but we can try to improve our response to the conditions around us. How do we restore joy, motivation, and productivity to these altered days?

1. Zoom Out

A first thought is looking at how we tune in and zoom out (stepping back and seeing the larger picture) as a way of shaping our emotions. I just love this illustration by Olivia Holden who helped me capture a process for examining and understanding emotions for an upcoming Be Ready Explorers’ Adventure! 

Examining and understanding emotions illustration by Olivia Holden for Paratus with Kristin Tenney-Blackwell

2. Active Response

Another idea for when life tips out of balance is massaging your feet or hands with lotion. Try your favorite soothing scent–like lavender or rose–for added stress relief. Kids often love this, too! We can forget that some things people think of as self-care are designed to help activate our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). 

3. Disconnecting During Downtime

And, let us remember that planning for downtime as well as our work and family schedule is equally important. In our world today, people can be contacted and connected any time of day and night. We are responsible for learning ways to rest, disconnect, and monitor to help digest the volume of busyness that comes our way. 

4. Get Your Hands Dirty

Feeling as though life has tipped out of balance seems quite humanly universal. And I am reminded of a recent interview I had with Frances Tophill, a horticulturalist and television presenter, while creating the newest Be Ready Explorers’ Adventure Kit. For Frances, gardening is about giving your time, care, and emotions to help something grow. Whether planting fall vegetables or taking a walk through the neighborhood, time in nature can provide a mental reset, especially during these days of Zoom fatigue.

As our circumstances within and from this pandemic continue, it requires us to courageously learn new ways to adapt and grow. Like Frances, we can approach this adaptation with patience and care. And, we can get better with practice.

To work toward mental and emotional resilience alongside children you care for, consider joining the Be Ready Explorers for monthly activities and adventures. In November’s Switzerland adventure, you’ll learn more about Frances and other explorers while putting into practice mental and emotional care alongside your child.

Wishing you all the best,

Kristin Signature