The word ‘difficult’ is understated for the experiences we are all going through so far in 2020. This will be a year that goes into the history books and studied in the future by the youngest of our children, who will barely remember what took place.
All of humanity has been affected by this unseen potentially deadly enemy in so many different ways. There has been collective fear, anxiety and stress, financial and safety concerns, loneliness, isolation and increased depression, overwhelming uncertainty for our futures and a great deal of loss. Other emotions too have taken over such as a sense of surrealism, shock, despair, frustration and anger.
I want to mention 3 main issues in summary in this blog:
Dealing with all our negative emotions:
We can easily become overwhelmed by negative thinking, focusing on the worst-case scenarios, the ‘what if’s’ and jumping to all the wrong conclusions. We can focus on how it happened and become angry, we can focus on how unfair it all is and be frustrated by just how restricted our lives have become. We can find it difficult to juggle many responsibilities and find any sort of downtime, becoming increasingly tired and irritable. Then, of course, we can worry constantly about our safety and the safety of those we love or how we are going to protect and feed our families or about our jobs and incomes. So what can we do to help us cope with all this?
- Now more than ever it is time to live in the present. Stop ruminating over past events or worry about coming ones. Reign in your thoughts to just what matters today.
- Establish some structure in your day.
- Be mindful of the small everyday positives.
- Take time to make sure you manage even a small amount of ‘Me Time’.
- Try some breathing and relaxation exercises and some meditation to soothe the overwhelmed brain.
- Connect via technology or simply by telephone with friends and loved ones.
- Laugh together.
- Escape into a good book or a computer game.
- Go for a walk or do some other form of exercise you enjoy.
- If you are able, volunteer to help others.
Currently, many of us are experiencing different types of loss such as the loss of our sense of normality, of human touch and closeness, of freedom, the break-down of relationships and of course the death of loved ones, without the ability to say goodbye in the normal and traditional way.
I believe we as individuals and the nation as a whole will need to prepare ourselves for a Tsunami of grief & loss to wash over us once all this is over. Right now many are either too busy on the frontline or trying to make sure our families are safe to make the space for grief but the time will come. If and when it comes, allow it to follow its natural process – it’s healthy and OK to grieve in the best way you can – seek help if you need to.
We are far from certain what the new ‘normal’ will look like in our lives, the country or indeed the world. For many this period of adjustment, which has already begun, will prove to be a difficult transition, especially for those of us who find ‘change’ unsettling and difficult. Some of us have by now got used to isolation, less work pressures and responsibilities and may find some difficulty in returning to society after lockdown. Find ways to move forward at your own pace and in your own way, as there will be no right or wrong way to do this.
There have been precious few positives associated with this battle against an unknown and unseen enemy but those that have been highlighted are considerable and worth spending some time reflecting on – the planet is healing, the natural world is blossoming and wildlife thriving, noise, air and light pollution all down and communities have really come together in love and compassion for others. Most of us have time on our hands to pause, reflect and find some peace – let’s try to make the most of these difficult times, if we possibly can, and connect with others to help them do the same.
So keep talking to each other and seek the support we need to learn how to cope with fear, anxiety, depression and uncertainty and to find the space to adjust and grieve now and going forward.
Stay safe everyone and hold on to hope, as these difficult times will end.