Voices: Dr. Dara Bushman // How to keep your shiFt together through a Pandemic Holiday Season

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Dr. Dara Bushman is a psychologist and author who appears on numerous media outlets sharing expertise on COVID counseling, trauma, and wellness. She lives in Asheville, NC. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.

Dear everyone in complete shock and denial that the holiday season is upon us,

Are your days running together? ARE YOU WONDERING WHERE THE HECK THE YEAR WENT? Are you wondering whether this pandemic-orama (a pandemic that feels like it will never end) will stop and feeling like you have been in a daze?

It is time to pause! It is a time to set ourselves up for a season with creativity and get ourselves set for the upcoming year. It is time to shiFt and clear out emotional clutter....

There is typically a thrill of traveling, preparing for big events and gatherings and to be the hostess with the mostest- but that feels impossible this year. Our biggest worry was overeating and gaining the holiday 10 pounds. We were supposed to have had a holiday break. And that time has come and is happening. Thanksgiving is days away. A day to give gratitude and appreciation followed by other holidays of celebration and connection. How can we creatively do it differently this season and welcome a new year?

Yes, there is chaos going on, but chances are if you are totally overwhelmed, this pandemic is the icing on the cake- not the WHOLE problem. You were overwhelmed before this happened. Truth be told, it is this pandemic that IS putting things in a different perspective. NOW, is the time to clear the clutter from the roots in your life. Means all the things that don’t work - relationships, thoughts and beliefs. When we clear out a closet, we feel liberated. Let’s clear accumulated gunk in your brain like a closet! Imagine how that feels when we do it in life, with people, with thoughts, toxic relationships or anything that no longer serves us.

Let shiFt go. Sometimes we think things will change or we will need it again one day. But the weight of keeping them or it around outweighs the slight chance we might want it again. Does it fit who we are now anyway? Will it fit into our life as we move into change after this pandemic?

What can we clear to make room for new?

I’m sitting writing this as my kids are softly playing, and the television is on in the background. I am experiencing a new kind of exhausted.

I am thinking how I have been socially distancing all my life and now it is finally in style!

I am a full-time kindergarten and 2nd grade homeschool teacher now, I grab my laptop anytime I can. Whether it is to peek at emails, write a sentence in my book, or text a friend back. Desperate attempts hoping to catch up or contribute to something.

I am totally freaking out that all my years of loving to meet with people in my office, on tennis courts, in ice skating rinks, on fields, at conferences, in television studios… the lists go on. AND now all needs to be electronic. That is right, I am a “tele-shrink”!

Now, I know I shouldn’t admit how distracted I am or how much I try to work. It’s not cool or empowHERing to admit what it really takes to make my life run.

[To be honest, I’d much rather say I am completely engulfed playing Legos and totally present with a nomination for new home teacher of the year!]

But I won’t back away from sharing seeds of healing and wellness and keeping my shiFT together. It just looks different right now:

  • I barely know what day of the week it is

  • I send most emails when my kids are sleeping

  • I often feel rushed or like I cannot get things done fast enough- or good enough for that matter (chronic enoughtis)

  • I respond to social media comments while making breakfast and lunches, between lessons, while they ride their bikes, and anytime there is a second

  • Most days lunch is the same and dinner from a microwave

  • Sometimes I cry when I get so tired and swear, I can’t do anymore or feel the sadness of our global reality

  • The thought of researching one more on line educational program or work out class I should do is overwhelming and nauseating

  • I order groceries online because the lines at the supermarket made me crazy before there was a pandemic. Forget about it now!! (Thank you Instacart!)

I know life won’t always look like this (nor do I want it to be the norm), but--for now--this is the reality.

On days when you feel like you can’t get it all done...on mornings you snooze an extra few minutes and don’t work out…on nights when you don’t sneak in extra work even though you swore you would stay up late, but instead watch Netflix. And to the people in your life that feel like they suck the last remaining morsels of energy out of you with their drama and call to complain how awful their life is or only want to talk about the awfulness…I feel you.

You’re not alone.

On rough (but glorious) days of doing something we love, let’s remember:

  1. How far we’ve come. Have P.P. Parties (Permission to play).

  2. What ever feels icky is just gunk or information stuck in our brain, it is not who we are

  3. The past is the past and giving it energy and thought only brings it to present

  4. The future is just what it is, ahead of us, not now

  5. How special it is to be supported by people who believe in us

Let’s keep our shiFt together- together!! You can email me, dara@drdara.com, go to www.DrDara.com to sign up for emails, we can stay connected on social media @truthwithdrdara (facebook, instagram) or we can do virtual sessions.

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