We have all experienced trauma over the past few months. It's time to experience some joy to offset the buildup of grief we have over all we have lost.
At the beginning of this year I, like most of you, had big plans for 2020. 2019 was rough and I was ready to design a life I loved instead of allowing the residual effects of the previous year to carry over.
And then a pandemic hit and all efforts switched to navigating its unknown pathway.
Our new normal is still shifting and taking shape, but one thing is becoming clear: we need to develop ways to balance the grief we are experiencing with some joy.
To be clear, grieving is an important process in navigating this pandemic. We cannot ignore or deny the loss we have all faced individually and collectively.
In our family we are grieving the loss of two senior year celebrations, the loss of a senior soccer season, the loss of time with our friends, the loss of income and business development, and the loss of peace in the midst of fears over how this virus may affect our family.
We are also grieving the loss of livelihoods of friends and family, the loss of life of so many lives in our state and nation, and the loss of optimism and positivity in the face of fear and anger.
You are probably experiencing grief on many different levels too.
Living our daily lives with so much grief is not healthy. We need to build a balance; a way to admit our grief and experience joy.
One of the ways I am building joy into my life is in outdoor activities. These activities allow me to process my grief, absorb Vitamin D (which is an essential mood stabilizer), and release healthy endorphins into my body, lifting my mood and re-shaping my perspective on this season.
It has also been a fantastic way to socialize while social distancing, giving me that much needed connection with others.
Here are a few of my favorite ideas to use outdoor activities to navigate building a balance between grief and joy:
Walking. Walking has given me space to pray and seek God's wisdom while releasing my fears and grief. It has also helped me to see His beauty all around me in the midst of it. I have done prayer walks for my personal life, neighborhood, our local, state and national leadership, and our schools and educators. Releasing my grief, anger, and fear and focusing on the truth that God is still in control and that His plans are for our good has helped build a balance between my grief and joy.
Training with my son. This one is a new addition, but it has been no less therapeutic. In addition to being outdoors, watching my son process his growth and development, build routines for improvement for himself, and establish markers for growth has renewed my hope in what the future could hold, balancing the loss we have already experienced.
Gardening. Yanking out weeds may not sound fun, but it is so good for the soul, especially when we focus on weeding as removing fear, worry, and anxiousness from our hearts. Adding new plants helps us to focus on the future as we look forward to new blooms and growth. Revitalizing mulch or pinestraw can give us a sense of satisfaction that progress has been made in a season where some or all of our progress may have been stalled.
Kayaking. This one is probably my favorite, though it is a special treat and not (yet) a regular occurance in my life. Being out on the water surrounded by the noises of nature helps to quiet the negativity of grief. It's especially fulfilling with friends because we can stay apart and still be together. If you are in the Charleston area of South Carolina, Kendra Tuck is a must. She is an amazing teacher and guide and her meet-ups are always a delight and free if you have your own kayak (and about $35 per kayak adventure if you don't). Bonus: Beginners with no experience are welcome on most trips.
Navigating building a balance between our grief and the need for joy is a must for making it through this season. May these ideas encourage and inspire you to take one step closer today.
Join the Conversation: These are just a few outdoor activities I have participated in. What outdoor activities are you using?