By Chaplain Resident Brigette Kemink

I’m an avid follower of Brené Brown. If you don’t know who she is, I would encourage you to look her up. Brené recently started a Podcast series called “Unlocking Us” and I listen to her Podcasts as soon as I am able, sometimes listening to more than one in a day. I’ve started to listen to her Podcasts for a second time because there is so much good stuff.

So I randomly chose a Podcast this week and it was from the end of March. Brené was talking about exhaustion and how to be patient with ourselves and others during these unusual days. Well, I don’t think Brené needs me, or anyone else, to tell her…WE ARE STILL EXHAUSTED!! I don’t think I’m alone when I share that I expected us to have a few weeks of being cautious about COVID and then returning to our regular way of living. But that didn’t happen and I’m still exhausted.

This exhaustion is more than simply being tired, it’s like a cloud over my brain and I know it’s affecting how I think. So, I try to give myself grace and remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. I also return to the Mental Health Continuum model which says I’m still not in green, I’m solidly planted in yellow (click here and scroll down to see it).  So, I’ve given my brain a new identity for these days, “Pandemic Brain.” Pandemic Brain affects my ability to think like I used to. I find myself forgetting things I never have before. I have to make myself a list to do the simplest things and that frustrates me. When other people tell me they are exhausted or simple things seem harder now or some other stress related condition, I offer them grace and patience and encourage them to listen to their body. But for some reason, I struggle to do it for myself. For some reason, I think I have to do better, but honestly, who am I being better for if I don’t listen to my own needs? The answer is simple, no one. It’s important to offer ourselves grace, patience, rest, and honesty. We need to be honest with ourselves about our needs.

When I think about what I need, I think about the things that refresh and calm me. I think about being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I think about watching and listening to rain. I think about listening to music that feeds my soul and connects me to my higher power. I think about going for a walk with my family, friends, and dogs. I think about sitting at the beach or floating down a river. I think about reading a good book or watching a favorite movie. I think about practicing meditation, prayers, and engaging in rituals that make me feel connected to the earth and all of creation. I think about talking with friends or laughing at funny animal videos. There are so many things I can do to refresh and calm myself, I just have to remember to do them. Some I have to schedule and others I can just take a few moments to enjoy.

So, yes, I’m still exhausted. I think I will be for some time to come and I know I’m not alone. So, let’s give ourselves the patience, grace, and time we would extend to others. Think about what brings you refreshment and calm. Need some ideas, encouragement, or a reminder? Check out our resources on www.mmspiritualcare.org under Self-Care, view Meditation Vlog, read a poem or listen to music. Be patient my friends. Grace and peace to you.

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