Life is ‘ravelling and unravelling’, and you might be noticing it yourself.  

Some of us are experiencing up to our sixth COVID-19 lockdown and it’s damn wearing. Even tougher for those who have the virus or have lost someone close during this crazy time. 

Others are getting back to a new normal which is welcomed but equally challenging with a barrage of daily updates on the virus and constant uncertainty. 

Regardless of where we find ourselves in this moment, there are times of hopelessness and a feeling of being tangled up comes to mind (and body). When these moments strike, there certainly isn’t a feeling of expansion.

Other moments feel full of hope and a genuine feeling of freedom arises. It’s certainly easier to be grateful without any bounds at these times.

It got me thinking about a play on words with ‘ravelling and unravelling’ and their value in daily life. 

The meaning for ravelling and unravelling can be the same – as in ‘to reveal’, ‘to separate’ or ‘causing to fray or come apart’. They also can mean the contradictory – ‘to tangle’ or ‘bind up’ or ‘wind up’.  

So can we benefit from the experience of life ravelling and unravelling?

Just like a rope winding around and around, it can also unwind too. It goes both ways depending on the context and purpose.  And therefore, both can have value. 

You too may have had similar experiences where the tangling and untangling process of life has been challenging but you recognise its lessons.

Having lived through most of my life with anxiety and depression, I’ve had my share of what seems like a never-ending cycle of feeling constriction in my life and then experiencing the unwinding. At times, I feel totally exposed and vulnerable and it’s never a comfortable experience.

I remind myself, whether ravelling or unravelling, that as humans we have many layers. We also have resources and can tolerate discomfort and not perish. We learn ways to climb in and out (and through) the best we can and discover how to cultivate our own inner and outer resources over time. 

Then, to further unwind from the tension, I do a couple practical things to stay present. 

  1. I focus on breathing out (exhale) and let go of what I can’t control. 
  2. I also unhook unhelpful thoughts by asking 5 questions related to the 5 senses. 

What is something I can hear? 

What is something I can see?

What is something I can touch?

What is something I can smell?

What is something I can taste?

By the time I do this 1–2 minute process, I have at least somewhat untangled the tension in my body, breath and mind and can often resume whatever activity in a more conscious way.

Whether we are amid lockdown or not, we can all benefit from ravelling and unravelling. It’s a little like the tide coming in and out from the shore. Both are part of nature. 

Not letting either the double meaning or process squander, it may just lead to insight and self-discovery too.


  • Dr Deb Roberts has a PhD in public health. She is a writer, speaker, yoga teacher and mental health advocate. American born, she lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, three sons and golden retrievers Sparky and Indi. You can read more of her writing on her blog.