Take a deep breath for five long seconds. Hold it for five. Now, release for five.
Doesn’t that feel much better?
If the above sounds familiar, it is because it is a commonly used breathing technique to help reduce stress. And, it’s been something I’ve been practicing a lot lately.
You see, it appears that just when we thought things in the world were settling down and that big ole’ nasty virus was gonna be a ghost in our rear view mirror, things have again amped up.
For me at least, they’re at a point where I feel the need to “detach” – for lack of a better term. I am learning however, this “detachment” does not come easily and it does indeed take practice – lots and lots of it.
Once news hit that a vaccine was being rolled out, I think many of us – falsely – assumed it would just be a matter of time before everyone received their shot and we could once and for all get back to normal after a stressful year or restrictions, death and disease.
Spoiler alert: I never thought there would be a debate over actually taking the darn vaccine.
We’ve all had lots of vaccines – for the measles, mumps, tetanus – but this one is different. It has not been around for as long. And, its debut came attached with some political debris. It seems folks decided to turn medicine into politics and suddenly the roll out of this vaccine became fraught with debate.
As we’ve continued to see new outbursts of variants, we all agree – this has gone on long enough. One day out of frustration I posted on Facebook: “To the unvaccinated: Your ‘personal choice’ is killing people!”
Uh oh, danger Will Robinson.
Suddenly, I learned several of my family members had not been vaccinated nor do they have any intentions of doing so (from what I’ve read many families are experiencing this). It was bad enough to have the realization that one of my family members could get sick and possibly die because of their unwillingness to follow a health protocol, but what made it worse was that I started a bit of a spiff online, right there on my FB post.
I did not anticipate this and did not want it. Suddenly the “us vs. them” was within my family and it was causing me personal distress. I did my best to quell the situation and then came to a decision – “Manny, you have to detach from these conversations and this situation. It is way too stressful and could cause damage to your relationships.”
Oye, is that easier said than done.
I avoided social media for a bit, dialed down my news consumption and began practicing meditation again, saying to myself “You can only control yourself and your reaction to things, nothing more. The universe continues to unfold as it should and this all shall pass…
…Now breathe Manny!”
With that breath came calm. I tested it out by looking at Facebook and Twitter (I wasn’t going to let any post get my goat!). With practice, it began to work.
Having conquered Facebook, I decided to try nextdoor.com as I knew that would be an even greater challenge.
For those of you who don’t know nextdoor.com, it is a web site where folks post information about things going on in their local neighborhoods. It can also be a hotbed of malcontents who anonymously go for the throats of any neighbors who don’t agree with them.
I looked at the posts: “They didn’t check for vaccine proof at this restaurant – boycott it!” “People walked around without masks in the supermarket – report the management!”
My fingers trembled at the keyboard. I wanna, I wanna, I wanna…. Breathe five, four, three… My fingers calmed and my brain slowed down.
I learned an obvious yet valuable lesson: “You don’t have to respond to everything.”
There are still days when my fingers get the best of me (don’t get me started on political memes), but I am finding myself to be much more content by not responding to every little post that screams: “Respond to me!”
My outlook is improving and I am resolved that “Whatever people do with their lives comes with consequences which don’t necessarily involve me.” As I’m getting better at this detachment thing, I’ll leave it at that.
And with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”