Break Glass List

Today I’m working through my Break Glass list, a tool that has helped me deal with some almost-overwhelming anxiety the past few weeks. I learned about this mental health tool a few months ago from my BFF Jonobie who in turn learned it from her therapist.

A Break Glass list is simply a list of things that help ground you physically or mentally. Things that, were we not overwhelmed and just a bit down, we might do anyway. But when our systems are overloaded it’s hard for us to think of those simple things which is why we have this list made in advance. Then when we’re feeling overwhelmed we only need to remember one thing:

In case of emergency, break glass.

I keep my list in a Google Keep document that I can readily access from my phone or computer whenever I need it. Here’s my list, which is very me and likely not useful to you as-is but might give you some ideas:

  • Listen to Working Girl soundtrack
  • Close your eyes and take deep breaths
  • Text Jonobie or Jeena
  • Stretch
  • Drink water
  • Eat something
  • Step away from the computer / phone
  • Go get a Sonic cherry coke

The trick is making this list in advance so you have it when you need it.

Searching for evidence of beauty you cannot see

[I]n this pandemic haunted world in which we now live, some of y’all are in dark places too, some of you for the first time. And while I don’t know what it is like to be you, I do want to let you know that it is important to realize that your reality is not the only reality, and the world is still a beautiful place and worth fighting for, and that sometimes the best you can do is to search for the evidence of the beauty you cannot see, and then rest in it until the darkness passes.

Hugh Hollowell, Life is So Beautiful #54

Accepting the new normal

I think I’ve moved into the final stage of grief: acceptance.

For 8 weeks I’ve been grieving, among many things, that my old life is over. Going to the gym at 5:30a every morning. Running with good friends on Sundays and laughing with them as we share lunch together. Going to shows at ACT and listening to the Seattle Symphony. Eating out at amazing restaurants. Hugging friends so dear to you that they’re family. Board game nights and shared dinners with loved ones.

That life is over for the foreseeable future for very valid reasons.

This is the new normal.

Now I’m focused on switching from “surviving until this is over” to “living in the mid- and post-pandemic world”. It’s hard and sad. It’s also necessary for me to drag myself out of “I’m alive out of obligation” back into “living again”.