Acknowledge the heaviness, then reframe

Trees weighed down with many inches of snow.

On April 16, I woke up and looked out the window to find at least nine inches of fresh snow. By the end of the storm, Fort Collins would have 14 inches. What I saw from my second-story perch was my trees were not only covered in snow, they were weighted down by it. Branches were sagging to the ground. This was not the light fluffy stuff of winter, but the wet, heavy stuff of spring.

As I breathed in the scene, I realized it was a lot like my experience of COVID-19. Thankfully, I have not been sick. My heart goes out to friends and colleagues who have been. Still, I have noticed many moments that feel heavy and hard – like an invisible thing that is dragging me down.

We don’t want to get stuck in this state of mind. What can we do in times like these?

Acknowledge and accept

It helped a lot that morning to put words to what was happening. This is hard. I don’t like it. I don’t want things to be this way. Other thoughts were there, too. I should be getting more done. It seems like this will never end. Naming what we are going through and our feelings about it helps us get a handle on the situation. It also helps to write them down or share them with another person. I felt lighter when I acknowledged my experience and shared it with a friend.

To change our state of being, we start by noticing and then we can move to acceptance. That snow is wet, heavy, and there’s a lot of it. When I went out into the yard, I could see a couple branches broke outright. The snow had stressed another to the point of fracture. Wow, this is tough. I didn’t want lose those limbs.

A branch under heavy snow has fractured and split in the middle.

By accepting, we see the reality for what it is. Most of the branches will be fine and a few broke. However, accepting is the beginning, not the end. It didn’t mean I liked the breakage or that I condoned it. It meant that I had a clear understanding of the circumstances. I wasn’t trying to pretend or kid myself that what was happening was somehow not happening.


After we acknowledge and accept, then we can move on. One way to reframe is to change your state of mind. What would it take to shake it off? What would help you come back to your best self? Extending the tree analogy, I remembered the Whomping Willow from the Harry Potter series and the ents from the Lord of the Rings. Those trees could definitely dust off their snow. Is there an image that helps you remember your personal strengths?

Reframing helps us pivot to a more positive perspective and one where we can choose our next steps. I am not happy that the branches broke, but I can’t change it back and dwelling on it won’t change it either. I can choose to focus on what is in my control, such as knocking the snow down from the undamaged limbs. We can reframe the situation and remind ourselves of choices over what we can influence and where we can have an impact.

On the day that I write this, the sun is bright in the sky. My trees are looking perky again and continuing to leaf out. Life moves on. By acknowledging, accepting, and reframing, we can move on, too, with more ease and grace.

(For more tools to get through challenges, check out our other blog posts, like this one from last month or follow us on Twitter.)


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