So we are 4 nearly weeks into lockdown. I knew it wasn’t going to end, so why do I feel so rubbish at hearing the announcement? The last couple of days I have woken up frustrated and with a sinking feeling. I have so much to be grateful for. We have enough space to work at home, we have been eating good food, we live in a place where we can take our daily exercise in beautiful countryside and perhaps the biggest thing is that I own 50% of a wellbeing company and I have all the tools at my fingertips. I know how to look after my mental and emotional wellbeing and here I am feeling grumpy!
The truth is that the experience of being human means that we feel stuff, it is not rational and it certainly isn’t always nice. Heading for the fridge for comfort food, wanting to cry for no apparent reason, wanting to blame someone else, feeling cross, upset, or frustrated are all things I experience despite everything I know. In one of our virtual sessions this week one of the participants coined a beautiful phrase: “Self-compassion is the key to resilience”. It has resonated so strongly with Rose and I this week. Rose has written on her desk – “How have I been kind to myself today?” and “How I have I been kind to someone else today?”
It reminds me that the answers are simple, that doesn’t mean easy!
In this time of change, our bodies are on high alert waiting to cope with whatever threat we may have to deal with. The truth is that these days we don’t need the same reactions we did when we were threatened by wild animals, but our body still reacts both physically and emotionally to stress. We may experience this stress in our bodies as aches, pains, cravings or an upset stomach as well as the emotional ways I have described above, or you may be feeling apathetic. There are very many things I could be doing, but right now I don’t feel like doing many of them.
Whatever any of us feel, it is OK, we are not going mad. Here are some things that really do make a difference:
1. Be kind to yourself – ask yourself the question “what would I do right now if I were being kind to myself?”
2. Take a breath – just noticing you are breathing is helpful. A 7-11 breath might be even more so (take a really deep breath in and then an even longer slower out-breath). Repeat for a few cycles.
3. Notice something that you are grateful for – a nice cup of tea, the sun is shining, a friend giving you a call.
4. Get some nature time – if you can take a walk, in or near something green, get into your garden if you have one (even if you need your coat and umbrella). If you can’t get outside sit with a pot plant and if none of those are possible, watch some nature on your phone, TV or computer.
5. Do something that you like to do – dance around the house, play a silly game, sing at the top of your voice, have a bath.
6. Step away from the news and social media.
8. Call it out – say it out loud. Name what you are feeling. For me simply sharing all this has allowed much of my discomfort to shift.
It is probable that these feelings will arise again in some form at some point and I will eventually remember to draw myself back to the above tools which will help once more.