There is a story recounted in the book Sleeping With Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn. Orphaned children in refugee camps during WWII were given a piece of bread to hold at bedtime to soothe their anxiety.
Instead of fearing waking up homeless and without food, by holding the bread, they were reassured, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.” Sleeping with bread at night gave them hope for the morning.
I recently ran four coaching groups about living and leading during pandemic times. During one discussion, we were talking about the fact that we’re not just dealing with the pandemic. There are wildfires, earthquakes, political unrest, every day there’s something new. If it were just one of those things, we have strategies to help. But what do you do when there’s one thing on top of another?
One participant shared an insight from a presentation by Dr. Simon Marshall, who discussed the effects of uncertainty on the brain. In fact, he says this is a technique used in torture. Put people in a situation where they have no daily consistency or any sense of what will happen next, and it drives them crazy. Sound familiar?
These are torturous times we’re in, so what are the pieces of bread we can use to soothe our anxiety? For one of our participants, it’s knowing that every morning she’s going to get up and do 10 minutes of yoga. For me, it’s taking a few extra minutes to really savor that morning cup of coffee – no newspaper, no phone, I’m just going to let my mind rest.
What’s one small thing you can hold on to each day that you can look forward to and count on? What is your piece of bread?