Turning Hurt Into Hope Through Routine & Rhythm

BY: Liz Lawrence, M.A., LPC-S

Are you feeling this way too? --- So much of life hurts right now. It feels like a struggle sometimes to find or feel hope. We all just want the new normal to come already. Sometimes it feels like we are waiting for things to change for us. Well, we don’t have to wait for the new normal, we can find hope and reassurance now! I’d like to share a few ways we can find some much needed hope and reassurance.

I’ve been finding reassurance in a place that’s familiar to me. I didn’t realize it but I had the volume of the tv turned up a bit too loud when ​“Are you ready to get moving to some sick beats?!?”​ came over the speakers. I heard my husband's laughter echo from upstairs as he asked, “Work out time?”. I laughed in return, “Yes, wanna dance-workout with me?”. (He didn’t.) During this COVID time I’ve returned to one rhythm that brings me joy - dance workouts. I started dancing at 3 years old when I took my first dance class and it’s reassuring to return to a rhythm that feels so...well, natural.

Reassurance is challenging to find these days. I’m sure you would agree this is an extraordinary moment in human history. ​So much uncertainty and unknowns happening alongside scenes of compassion and connection. Fear of the uncertainty and the unknown surrounding COVID-19 is affecting everyone individually. ​Many of us have either developed a form of anxiety or are working hard to manage a pre-COVID-existing anxiety. Anxiety hurts.

We also never really know exactly what to expect with the ongoing updates from officials. The ongoing uncertainty creates a tension we feel internally and externally. ​Uncertainty naturally causes stress, and ongoing stress impacts our brains in ways that hinder the experience of hope. A painful cycle. Stress from uncertainty hurts too.

These hurts CAN turn into hope. Surprisingly it’s the simple routines and rhythms that creates reassurance, relieves anxiety, gives stress an outlet, and then lets our brains turn to places of hope again. A helpful cycle. I like the idea and practice of a rhythm more than a routine. Rhythm for me operates more like a flexi-routine that ebbs and flows with whatever changes I create or changes that come my way. The ebb and flow of a rhythm for life for me provides reassurance because there is a constant beat from those things I always include to some degree that help me to be the healthiest version of myself in a given life season. Routine or rhythm?

Routine and rhythm are powerful! Maybe it’s because we’re created by a God of rhythm.

● Seasons come and go with such regularity we calendar our years around them

● The systems of the body starting with just the basic of breathing and the rhythm of our heart beat can calm a crying baby or soothe a stressed adult like me.

● Sabbath practices, or the rhythm of work and rest gives u much needed permission to release the pressure of always performing for a time to delight in creation and the one who created us all

Returning to the way we’re created in rhythm lets us be reassured that as we live out of a rhythm or a routine, we are in fact living out of an integrity of identity.​ I love what Maya Angelou said ​"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." “Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.​".

So we don’t have to wait to experience reassurance and hope, we can begin to live in these rhythms and routines now.

● Working and resting

● Listening and speaking

● Learning and applying

Practically, here’s a few ways to reincorporate rhythm and routine into these historical times;

● Check out our social media posts from this week for a few other ideas.

● Think of yourself as a whole person who has physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational needs. Plan healthy ways to help yourself take action in each of these areas.

● Give yourself the benefit of a few of the same things to do each day. Yes, a routine, or a schedule, or a flexi-routine that feels more like a rhythm that ebbs and flows with changes but has a consistent beat to it.

● Regular journaling or chronicling your days, thoughts, emotions, and dreams to help clear your mind, identify and overcome negative thought patterns, unpack the proverbial Emotional Cup

● Spend time outside delighting in nature. For some of us this means buffing up on allergy precautions too.

● Ask yourself how much “people time” helps me to be the healthiest me, and then literally schedule those times with others. Let technology help you stay connected.

● Read through the Psalms of Ascent, otherwise known as Songs for The Road. As Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, but we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were sung by worshipers as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. There are components of justice, loss, hurt, pain, hope, faith, community, unity, and all leading to a place of being able to dream again.

Finding reassurance in these times of anxiety and uncertainty doesn't have to wait until things get to our new normal. Reassurance can start within you. Today. Then you can share this with others.

When it’s difficult, challenging, or you aren’t quite sure where to start, well that’s the rhythm of needing each other. As a licensed Christian counselor, I believe counseling is a tool that is perfect for a season when we need support, healing, or coaching. (And I promise I won’t ask you to do a dance workout with me.)

What’s your next step after reading this blog?

● Talk to someone about what resonated with you

● Try a couple of the ideas listed above

● Share this with someone who would enjoy it

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