For as long as I remember, I have struggled to deal with my emotions.
Anxiety and depression have reared their ugly heads at different times throughout my life, leaving me feeling like a “basket case” with no ability to control my emotions. As someone who is highly sensitive to those around me, it’s an added burden when things around me get tough.
I feel everything. Whether it’s family issues, personal challenges, or world problems—I feel them.
It has taken a long time for me to realise that I can do everything I can to be my best self in these situations, but after that, allowing the problems to consume me is simply a form of self-sabotage. In fact, I am still learning this. I see how much it takes from my own life, but more importantly how it impacts my little family.
I have two little ones, aged six and three. It has taken me until now to realise that when I go downhill, I can be of no service to anyone else. Actually, I am doing a disservice.
This happens to be the most emotionally charged and problematic six months I’ve lived through. For myself, my family, and our world.
The horrific bushfires at the start of the year that destroyed homes, lives, and livelihoods in front of our very eyes. Throw in COVID-19—robbing hundreds of thousands of their lives, and changing the way we live and connect overnight. The virus has also taken away my ability to see my family in South Africa, and the unknown of when this will be given back to me causes me constant anxiety. What will happen if something happens to one of my parents, and I can’t get Home? Or if I need my mom, and she can’t get to me in Australia?
Then there is the racial injustice all over the world that is being brought to the forefront. And even if you did want to hide your head in the sand about this out of fear of pain, now it is impossible—and rightly so.
Along with my own personal and family issues, the world around me has been hit hard.
Yet, despite all of this, the last six months have probably been my most hopeful in terms of having the ability to live with my emotions.
Yes, I have sobbed for the world around me. I have sobbed for myself and my family. Damn often. Homeschooling has been more difficult than I imagined, and the varied emotions that came from that were overwhelming. I am fuming over the fact that there is still so much racial injustice in our world.
But, instead of seeing no “out” from these emotions and allowing them to consume me, I have allowed myself to really feel them, safe in the knowledge that they will move over me.
Even if they will only be gone for a little while before returning. I know I will get a break. I know this because I have found a tool to facilitate that.
I have ensured I have times set aside to completely immerse myself in creativity. I have ensured that I take a gap when I can, and even if it’s 10 minutes of writing, reading, or experimenting while creating jewelery, or even writing a post to express my love for it.
During these little stolen moments, I step into a different world where nothing else matters other than the gorgeous fabrics I am working with, the exciting designs my mind is putting together, and the beauty of the words I am reading or writing.
There’s something magical about being able to allow yourself to be completely absorbed in something where even if it’s only for 10 minutes, you lose track of your sense of self and time. And my friends, this is flow—and I have finally found it.
Finding your flow, even for a moment, reduces anxiety, improves your mood, and slows your heart rate.
When you immerse yourself in a creative task, whatever it may be, and you succeed in creating a result, dopamine—the feel good chemical, floods your brain. And this injection of motivation, or this momentary boost of happiness that you are experiencing, will encourage you to repeat this behaviour.
This explains so simply why the more flow I find, the more flow I want, and the less overwhelming my feelings feel. I have found a magical tool to help me cater to those feelings.
Watch an anti-racism hour with Jane Elliott talking with Waylon Lewis of Elephant, here.
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