We are living in some interesting times right now. Many places around the world are moving through a pandemic, political upheaval, and a lot of uncertainty about the future on a personal and collective level. Are you struggling to hold it together during this time? Is it difficult to find the positives in life right now? Or to find gratitude and joy when it feels like there is so much to be sad about? Maybe you are struggling just to keep it together, let alone being productive and creative at a time when certain forms of media tell you that you could use this opportunity to reinvent yourself. It’s great if you feel productive and creative, but it’s also completely acceptable if you don’t feel that way. Please know that you’re not alone. It’s perfectly okay to not be okay.
Gratitude and Grief – It’s Possible To Experience More Than One Feeling
Gratitude definitely has its place in our lives, even amidst the shared and individual grief that many of us are experiencing.
Gratitude, being thankful or showing appreciation, has many benefits, including, but not limited to:
- Enhancing long-term happiness
- Reducing impatience and promoting decision-making
- Reduction in depression symptoms, blood pressure
- Improving sleep
Gratitude allows us to be in the moment, present, with whatever is. This isn’t always easy, or possible if we are blocking out other emotions. Being present also means being present with our emotions, even if they are hard to feel. Have you ever felt like you needed to cry, or that something was weighing you down, but you didn’t want to look at and feel those emotions for whatever reason? And during that experience of suppressing hard, sad emotions, you noticed that it was harder to be present, to be creative, or to be open? That’s one example of why it’s okay to not be okay. And even more importantly, why it’s important to allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions so that you can process and move forward with your life in a healthier way.
Grief has many benefits as well, although it might be difficult to view grief and gratitude within the same realm, two sides of the same coin. Grief allows us to mentally free up space in our minds and in our bodies so that we can move forward. The idea that processing grief is a passive thing isn’t exactly correct. The whole “time heals” isn’t really true if you’re living on the side of grief. Processing grief requires active participation.
Collectively, we are all experience varying levels of loss, fear, and upheaval. Our bodies could be holding onto grief because of the loss of normalcy in our lives, fear of illness due to a pandemic, heartbreak over lives lost due to injustice, among so many other things that touch each of us differently on an individual level based on our own life experiences up to this point.
Some of the potential benefits of actively processing grief are:
- Allowing yourself to feel hard emotions, ultimately feeling “freer” and lighter after the experience.
- Bringing communities and people together
- Feeling a greater sense of balance and awareness
- Growth as an individual and sometimes as a collective when everyone is putting in the work to process and listen
When we process grief, oftentimes we start to experience different types of gratitude. Maybe we find aspects of our life that are really great. Or possibly, we remember beautiful moments where we can feel hope, optimism, and what it means to be a feeling, thinking human being.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
The important thing to remember is that it’s okay to not be okay. You don’t have to find the silver lining in your experiences right now. At some point, it is worthwhile to look for things that bring you back up above the surface of those choppy waters. But for right now, feel your feelings. If you want to. Allow yourself to dive into the discomfort, to question things, to be sad, mad, confused, disoriented, afraid, or numb. You are not alone. We are all in this together.
If you feel like you are in a funk, give these suggestions a try to ground yourself:
- WRITE – start a gratitude journal to keep track of the good things in life (even the little things)
- BREATHE – take some time out of your day, get comfortable and just breathe. Focus on the air coming into your body, hold it for three seconds then release it. Follow a guided breathing routine or meditation from online.
- MOVE – get outside and go for a walk, do some yoga or start a new workout routine. Exercising releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters, into your body.
- TALK – reach out to someone to talk to. It can be a friend, a loved one or a professional. It can help to relieve some of the weight of holding it all in and you may learn that you aren’t alone.
- BE KIND –to yourself and to others. Treat others as you would want to be treated, don’t let your anger lash out at others. You don’t know what other people are going through, it could be similar or different from what you are experiencing.