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Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My! My Three Favorite Strategies to Keep them Away!

October 13, 2021

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

Lately, I’ve felt a bit like Dorothy and Toto, scooped up and blown into a new world. Everything is different here and I never know what is going to happen or how people are going to respond. I’m ready to arrive back in Kansas, even though I’ve never actually lived in Kansas. I understand Dorothy’s desire to go back and want things to be “as they were before.” If I’m not careful, everywhere I look there seem to be lions and tigers and bears. I have to work each and everyday to make sure that I still bring with me a bit of that Kansas feeling.

In Kansas, Dorothy’s parasympathetic nervous system is pretty calm. Her life is pretty simple and, although she is fearful of the intimidating looks the neighbor riding her bike gives her, Dorothy is able to keep her fight, flight, or freeze response to a minimum. She has enough people in her life that she trusts so she feels safe.

When Dorothy arrives in the land of Oz, everything is different and there seems much to be afraid of. When she meets someone new, she goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode for a brief second but then is able to make friends easily.

Humans are wired to be on alert. This was useful back when we really needed to run from lions or tigers or bears. Right now, it seems that the lions and tigers and bears are at the grocery store, at the post office, on Facebook, or basically anywhere. I’m living in the Land of Oz and I’m never sure whether or not I feel safe or if I need to go into fight, flight, or freeze mode.

Before the pandemic, I knew that taking care of myself was important. I spent much of my time taking care of others. As a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, I was the ultimate caregiver. I had a few strategies to care for myself and, if I had time, I’d do them once in a while. Now, I do not have a choice. I have to take care of myself first and foremost because, if I don’t, the lions and tigers and bears take over each and every day.

My three top picks for keeping away the lions and tigers and bears and returning to a feeling of Kansas.

  • I begin my day with writing ten things that I am grateful for and the reason why I am grateful for them. What we adore, grows more! When I appreciate each and every wonderful part of my life, more good seems to be attracted, just like a magnet. When I write, I am grateful for my friends because they support me in my life and care about me. When I do this, I receive a phone call, text message or see someone at the store. It’s like the universe knows that I feel love and it sends me more love.

  • My favorite way to give gratitude is with a walking meditation. I walk for about 2 or 3 minutes (I set a timer so I am not worried about trying to figure out the amount of time). While walking, I say out loud, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Over and over again for the entire time. When I do this, flashes of things that I am thankful for appear as images. My morning coffee, family, flowers and sunshine appear in my mind and they remind me of all the beautiful gifts I receive each day. By the end of the 3 minutes, I feel different. Then, when I meet a lion or tiger or bear during my day, I remind myself of all the wonderful parts of my life and imagine them canceling out the fears brought on by the Land of Oz.

  • Breathwork. Another three minutes and I’m back in Kansas again. All I do is pretend to blow out candles with my nose for three minutes. I set my timer on my phone and only think about my breath coming out of my nose. I don’t worry about inhaling, only the exhale is strong and I hear it loud and clear. Even though this is number three on my list, if I was to think of the strategy that is the most helpful, it would be this one. This sets my parasympathetic nervous system to be able to handle more events in the Land of Oz.

I’ve realized that I do better in this new world with some basic strategies each and every day. If I don’t do these before I head out to the Land of Oz, the events of my day may send me into reaction mode. When I use these strategies, I am able to recognize that there really aren’t any lions and tigers and bears.

How do you find your Kansas mode?

When Dorothy does arrive back in Kansas, she appreciates everything in her life more. I’m learning to do that while in this new world. I’ve learned to not take things for granted anymore because guess what? In this new world, from toilet paper to cars, it’s impossible to guess what might happen next.

This week I posted on my Facebook page a quick activity to do-