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Taking good care of yourself in these uncertain times

For many, the hope sparked at the dawn of a new year, the planning, aspirations and wishes we cultivate for the year ahead have had to be suddenly altered and realigned again, due in great part to the re-introduction of restrictions linked to this third wave of Covid-19. There has been so much to take in recently that, understandably, this may feel overwhelming. We are both drawn into the daily news regarding Covid-19 and also through the passage of time somewhat desensitised by it. Yet, it is without doubt that we are all impacted by it. Tuning into the cumulative losses in various facets of our lives is a painful experience.

Core elements of how we have assumed the world to be ‘our assumptive world’ –  this sense that life is predictable, controllable, just and meaningful are undermined on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not being or feeling that we have control naturally creates anxiety, a sense of fragility in our lives. Although we are highly adaptive creatures, not knowing how things are going to work out, having to live with this uncertainty is very challenging. I wonder whether we can come to accept some semblance of this internal fragility that this pandemic has provoked, where the possibility of this might lie?

The notion that ‘night is darkest just before the dawn’ comes to mind in attempting to make some sense of this current predicament we are facing. There is some ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ with respect to the prospective roll out of the vaccination programme, which provides us with some comfort regarding the anxiety provoked by the rising Covid-19 case numbers, the restrictions introduced, which have limited access to our social contacts, loved ones, liberties and choices leading to isolation and loneliness.

In another vein, it seems as though it is also an opportune time to think and plan something around what can we do to ‘take good care’ of ourselves, to mind ourselves and our loved ones at this time of uncertainty, taking some control over areas of our lives that we can? I wonder about ‘checking in’ with ourselves on a daily basis, gauging our ‘emotional thermometer’ being a lovely symbolic expression of this. The important aspect of this is that it is an intentional, deliberate act to invite yourself to slow down and think in this ‘checking in’ process.

Infusing some positive thinking can be one antidote to what we are experiencing in service of connecting our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This could be generated through the creation of a gratitude list – mentally clocking two or three things, situations we have in our lives presently that we are grateful for. And as importantly, holding onto a non-judgemental internal attitude if we cannot find anything presently to be grateful for – giving ourselves permission for this to be ‘ok’ being acceptable too. A question provoked by curiosity comes to mind – ‘how can we create some meaning in our lives in an ongoing basis?’

By attending to and paying attention to your own mental health, by taking time to pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling and what you might introduce and then slowly incorporate into your life, however small and most importantly as kindly and compassionately as possible is an antidote to the anxiety and emotional upheaval created by this wave and now fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lastly, some behavioural examples that come to mind include practicing mindfulness or meditation, taking some physical exercise, making a connection with a loved one technologically if possible, ‘doing the next right thing’ for yourself whatever that is. The main point in all of this is to consider the spirit with which this is intended – of trying to be kind and compassionate with oneself and, insofar as is possible, take one day at a time.

Stephen McBride
Director of Services at Aware

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