Looking after our mental well-being has always been important but never more so than now but how do we actually do that? We’re constantly being bombarded by the media images of extremes we are told should be doing Joe Wicks’s daily workout, learn a new skill and organise a virtual social life, whilst on the other hand, we turn in for news about the daily death toll, the lack of PPE and miss the physicality of our family and friends all while worrying about our jobs, relationships and homeschooling.
There is no right or wrong way to navigate this crisis. We’re all experiencing a loss of life as we knew it and have no idea what life may look like on the other side. In times of stress, we can revert to our default settings, we lose ourselves in work, make ourselves busy, overeat, under-eat, exercise, drink. There is underlying stress and anxiety in us and then there’s the guilt. Guilt that we are healthy, that we are enjoying the slower pace of life, that we are enjoying the downtime or even not having to meet up, that we have a job.
We talk a lot about self-care but what does that mean? Self-care is not a bottle of wine and a nice candle. It is asking yourself what you need, here and now in this moment. Owning your needs (which we all have) and finding the appropriate place to get them met.
Are you feeling lonely? Do you have a friend who will listen and allow you to have the feelings you have opposed to try and ‘rescue you’ or offer practical solutions?
That glass of wine do you drink because you enjoy it? Is it something you reach for to relive the stress and/or boredom? How do you feel about yourself afterwards? Is it every night? Is it a glass or a bottle? Can you find another way to relax?
Do you need to connect or disconnect for a time? Monitor your exposure to the news pick a time of day that works for you. If you’re not sleeping after the 10 o’clock news switch to the morning or lunchtime news. Schedule time to talk to friends, create a routine that works for you. Do get dressed and shower. Go outside for a walk or run it’s amazing how being out can improve your mood. There are some great podcasts out there for all tastes.
If you find yourself overwhelmed in the supermarket, call a friend, listen to music or a podcast – distracting yourself will help.
What are your relationships like? If you have a partner are you communicating effectively? All relationships are under pressure, being with your partner 24/7 isn’t something we often do except on holiday or Christmas. Are you finding yourself supported by your partner and able to support them or have you realised that you speak a different language? Do you need to explain what your expectations are and hear theirs? Have you realised that this relationship has run its course?
We’re all in different places with our emotions at the moment, I would caution you against making any life-changing decisions at the moment. People will respond to this crisis in very different ways. Personally I think that we will only be able to process what we’ve been through at a later date and again this will be very different for all of us. The legacy of lockdown will show itself for many years to come. So be kind to yourself, focus on the here and now. Acknowledge how you feel and identify what you need and ask for help if you need it.
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