Spring time! Sunshine and birdsong and blue skies, and air that is still cold enough to need some kind of jacket, but not the kind of jacket anyone owns, which means we are always either too hot or too cold.
I love Spring, and I especially love spending it in a tiny Welsh corner of the world. Tucked away on the south west coast of Wales is the county I grew up in. It’s 50% coastline and 50% green fields so when the sun is shining it’s magical. Everything is in high-definition, accentuated only by noisy little lambs and the lapping of waves at the beach.
Don’t worry I’m not trying to sell you a caravan or a house in Pembrokeshire. I am simply fawning over the weeks I have just spent soaking up the countryside and salty air with my mum and my old grumpy dog. It was the line I never knew I needed to draw under that desolate winter lockdown.
It amazes me that, during lockdown, I spent endless hours with nothing but my thoughts and the TV (my partner was there too but we ran out of good conversation around mid-January) and still didn’t fully understand the true state of my mind, and exactly how much I needed a change.
I decided to go to Wales because I was worried about my mum, who had been living by herself throughout all of the lockdowns and was thankfully fully vaccinated. But if i’m honest, the trip ended up being as much a necessity for myself as it was for her.
And I think I only realised this after a week or two, when tension in my body that I hadn’t noticed before seemed to ease. It became easier to sit with my feelings, to be fully present on walks through beautiful countryside without my thoughts getting in the way.
My mood shifted ever so slightly, so the small things that used to threaten to derail my whole day now didn’t even make a dent (much to the relief of my partner who had to spend many a morning in lockdown wiping away my tears because I burned the toast or forgot to hang the washing or didn’t know what I wanted to watch on TV).
But I am very aware that many of us cannot simply pack up a few things and escape to a seaside county for a few weeks. I am privileged, and incredibly lucky that my parents decided to move to Pembrokeshire when I was a kid.
So I am keen to know what the alternative is for others who are coming out of lockdown, re-adjusting to life without restrictions and wanting to ease the tensions and traumas that have locked themselves up in our bodies.
Because this is what happens when we survive a very stressful or traumatic event. Our body soaks up the stress and trauma like a sponge, and if we don’t do anything to process it (journaling, therapy, crying at random intervals on a Sunday afternoon) it just sits in our bodies until either we do process it, or until it becomes too much and we burn out or have some kind of emotional meltdown.
I know this because I’ve had many, the worst being a 2am panic attack following weeks of stress at work. So I think it’s important to start thinking about the ways in which we can ease the tensions that lockdown caused. We all deserve to feel at ease, as we ease out of lockdown and into our new normal.
Helpful books on processing stress and trauma
Burnout: the Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle - Emily and Amelia Nagoski
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma - Peter A Levine
The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel Van Der Kolk