Angry? Lonely? Sad? Hungry? Who knows anymore. Emma Clifton enlists the help of an expert to crack the code of the emotional (not-so) merry-go-round we’re all on right now
Raise your hand if you have felt overwhelmed, enraged, lonely, sad or scared in the past five months? Yep, figured as much. The extraordinary events of 2020 have placed us all in a brand-new situation where nothing is the same and yet somehow everything is monotonous. For perhaps the first time in our adult lives, we can’t plan more than a week into the future. It’s safe to say our brains are struggling to catch up, leaving us all feeling a bit all over the place (this is a polite way of saying ‘batshit crazy.’)
Executive and leadership coach Suzanne Masefield, who has worked with Air New Zealand, NZ Rugby and SkyCity, is well aware of the pressures that stress can put on working professionals; it’s one of the reasons she created her meditation app Press Pause, which launches today. Here, she tells Capsule why we’re all feeling so out of sorts, how we can help ourselves adapt faster, and why connecting to our emotions is the key to working through them.
”To me, a pause is when you choose it, and nobody chose this. The stress levels of the unknown has opened us up to what was always there, but we always thought we could control the unknown with our jobs, or whatever, but really, we’ve never had any control. This is life – this is how life is. But it’s in your face at the moment.
“Fear means that growth is happening, always. But it’s what we do with it. It’s all about creating safety to help us manage that fear. For some people staying in bed when they’re scared might help create that safety. For others, it might be family time or going for a walk. It could be stroking your pet. You really have to simplify it right down.”
“Not being able to touch each other is such a fundamental thing for people, so you have to find another way to feel that connection.”
“Does that mean you find different textures or things like that? That’s why so many people are adopting cats and dogs. People want something to touch. Do you use your other senses more? That’s why there’s such a focus on cooking and eating now; why people are suddenly making so much bread. It’s the tactile thing, but it’s also the smell. It’s comforting, it takes you back to childhood. And because that touch has been restricted, the other senses have ramped up.”
The first phase is crisis mode: Flight, fight or fright. This is where burnout is most likely to happen.
The second phase is survival mode: You’ve still got a foot in crisis, but you’re starting to move forward a bit. You’re starting to find a new normal, create some sort of routine.
Next comes the recover phase: Things start to calm down a bit. Because the stress levels have gone down a bit, this is the phase where you can start to get sick. Headaches, run down etc, where your body is trying to release.
Finally, there’s the growth phase: If you’ve allowed your body to recover properly, you can then start to think about what’s next.
“So many people have died overseas, people have died here. Many people have lost their jobs in New Zealand and, for a lot of people, that’s their sense of identity. People think that grief is about dying and that’s one aspect. But grief is about loss. Loss of freedom; loss of what we knew before. And you have to own that so that you can then start to work through it. Awareness of your emotions, ownership of them, and then processing it. People don’t want to do that, they just panic and immediately want to fill that gap – and that doesn’t work long term.”
The alignment of all those parts of us: emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. This time can be about people getting connected with themselves, because they’re having to disconnect from others, and that’s bloody uncomfortable. That’s why we’re all addicted to Cheezels and wine! But in all experiences like this, you’ve got the challenge and you’ve got the opportunity. It’s the same with any moment when there’s a wake-up call: you get made redundant, you get sick, your marriage breaks up… whatever it is that makes you stop. That’s when you evaluate. People will evaluate on the surface: their career, their relationships, but very few people turn it round and go ‘How am I doing in my life? How is my self-esteem? How am I talking to myself?’”
“Create little moments throughout the day – I call them ‘possibility pauses’ – where you check in with yourself.”
“Before you start the day, yes, before you check your emails, lie in bed, put your hand on your stomach and feel either your feet on the floor, or the sheets covering you in the bed. It’s very tactile, it’s very sensory. Take that breath and think: ‘what do I want my day to be? I want to feel confident, or I want to feel calm.’ Just breathe that thought in and breathe out anything else you’re feeling: just three breaths. Start to think about how you feel. The majority of our decisions are made emotionally, but we don’t take the time to recognise how we’re actually feeling at any stage throughout the day.”
Press Pause by Suzanne is a website that offers ‘a slice of sanity amidst the chaos.’ With unique Pause sessions: a combination of meditations, progressive relaxations, hypnotherapy and breath-work sessions, the website offers both free and subscription programmes, set to beautiful nature videos to help you focus, relax, reconnect or just zen out, depending on what you need in that moment.