A series of stressful events has recently created an opportunity for growth. I’ve been trying to adjust my perspective rather than succumb to negativity. I know there’s such a thing as toxic positivity, which I am also trying to avoid. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… and all that.

In a year of widespread civil unrest and a raging pandemic, the urge to cling to optimism when it feels like everything is falling apart is an understandable one. But a culture of toxic positivity has emerged, where negative emotions – like sadness, anxiety, worry and disappointment – are viewed as inherently “bad”, rather than just a normal part of human existence.

Toxic Postivity: Have You Been Spreading It? by Catherine Renton, Vogue UK

So how do we keep it real without forcing optimism? Sometimes I just sit with my feelings (or write them in my journal) and let them be. I am not advocating denial of difficult emotions in this post. Recently I’ve been searching for ways to empower myself when life gets hard, and I wanted to share what’s been working for me. Challenging experiences sometimes provide a chance to learn something. While we can’t control other people or their reactions, we can always modify our own behavior and thought processes. I’ve been focusing on inner work which is really helping.

If you’re wondering what’s been going on, here’s a short breakdown of just a few things:

  • My dog fell off of a cliff while walking at the beach. A few days later my cat was also injured, resulting in 3 trips to the vet within one week.
  • Last week America was added to the list of Ireland’s quarantine countries, making the chances of seeing my family less likely this summer. “From March 26, 2021, passengers arriving into Ireland from a list of designated high-risk countries must complete a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.  The list currently includes the United States, and can change with little or no advance notice.  Passengers arriving from this list of countries are required to pre-book accommodation in a designated quarantine facility, and to pre-pay for their stay.  Travelers who fail to fulfil the legal requirement for mandatory hotel quarantine are committing an offence and can be fined up to €2,000 or get a prison sentence of up to 1 month, or both.” Read more here
  • A misunderstanding led to a minor community crisis, which resulted in confusion and unfounded gossip spreading.
  • Feelings of overwhelm and frustration have arisen because of the continuing uncertainty due to Covid-19 pandemic and the changing lockdown regulations.
  • The ongoing power struggles between my partner and his ex continue to negatively impact the children and the dynamics within our blended family.

What coping strategies or lessons have been learned?

  • Accidents are sometimes unavoidable. Thankfully the pets are recovering, though the bank balance is not. We would’ve been devastated if either had been permanently injured! Several hundred euro later, both the dog and the cat are nearly back to normal, though they’re both on medication. They can walk on all fours again. Several teeth had to be extracted from our 11 year old King Charles Spaniel, but thankfully none of her bones were broken and there wasn’t internal bleeding after her fall. Our teenage male cat is on antibiotics. We thought he’d been hit by a car, but it turns out he was only in a cat fight marking his territory.
  • The only thing I can do is stay informed. As of last weekend, the travel legislation was amended: “Passengers arriving from one of the designated high-risk countries who are fully vaccinated are exempt from the Mandatory Hotel Quarantine, but must still quarantine for 14 days upon arrival at the location listed on their Passenger Locator Form submitted upon arrival to Ireland.” – US Embassy. This means Grandma might be able to visit us after all since she’s had both of her shots! The cost of the hotel stay is €1800 per person. It would’ve been insane to pay that and miss out on 2 weeks together so she could isolate in some strange quarantine hotel. There’s no guarantee she’ll be able to travel, but it’s at least a possibility now.
  • This situation really annoyed me. A lot of upset could have been avoided if people had kept their mouths shut. I don’t understand why some people spread rumors or jump to conclusions without having their facts straight. While I couldn’t actually do anything to remedy the situation, I realized that I could step away from it. Instead of putting so much energy where it really isn’t appreciated, I’m choosing to redirect it. I’m prioritizing self-care right now. Let someone else take a turn doing some volunteer work while I recharge.
  • Exercise. I’ve renewed my commitment to move my body every single day. I’ve been jogging, hiking, gardening and practicing yoga. Focusing on breathing deeply is helping me to feel less stressed about things which are out of my control. The never ending lockdown is something many people in Ireland are struggling with right now. Thankfully we’re permitted to meet one person outdoors- though not in a home garden- so that means I can meet my closest friend for takeout coffee and a walk. Chatting with her always makes me feel better. The 5 km travel restriction was also lifted recently. We can travel anywhere within our county of residence at the moment. Thankfully Cork has lots of places to explore so I’m looking forward to getting the campervan on the road again. Last weekend it was great to go hill walking with our 3 youngest kids and have a change of scenery.
  • No blended family is straight forward. When something triggers me these days, I try to create space for myself. Boundaries are so important, especially for stepparents. I frequently remind myself of what is my responsibility and what is not. Usually the issues that arise are something my partner can handle on his own while I go read a book.

What self-care tips have you adopted to help you throughout the pandemic and other stressful life events? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and well!

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