Me against the monster
“Something is out there and it’s going to get me!”. The premise of so many horror films - we can’t see, hear, smell or touch it. We just know it is there. Covid19 is out there and if it gets to us then our fears will be confirmed. But, the more we pretend there is nothing to worry, or talk, about, then, like the ‘elephant in the room’, that fear just gets bigger
It is two or three generations since the last event that impacted the entire world population. No global wars since 1946: No global pandemics since the early 20th century: many only recently acknowledging ‘Global-warming’. The Covid19 outbreak in early 2020 introduced a clear and present danger to every human being on the planet. However, measures are in place to bring us through this dark time.
Its good to talk
So, have honest conversations about how we are feeling (in an age-appropriate way with children). Because, without these conversations, the message is “we must never talk about difficult things’” implying “because it will upset other people”. But, surely, people are already upset.
If you can’t talk to family or friends then, consulting a counsellor may help. Possibly having just one or two conversations to clarify your thoughts and identify coping strategies. Perhaps practicing the conversation you would like to have with your nearest and dearest - “If a counsellor doesn’t laugh at my fears, or tell me to pull myself together, then maybe I can tell my Mum/Wife/Brother/Friend”. Maybe then you can see the monster for what it is and live your life accordingly.
Telling yourself that you are worth it:
Many of us were raised to put others first and put ourselves last. But, when people consistently prioritise other people’s needs, this can leave them tired, discouraged and depleted. It is imperative, then, to look to your own needs and practice self-care, especially if you are a ‘rescuer’ or carer. We need to nurture ourselves in order to nurture others.
Oscar Wilde’s famous quote “Be yourself because everyone else is taken” may give a clue to how to shape your self-care. There is no ‘one size fits all’ to fix for what ails you. My idea of down-time in the morning is to make a café latte on my coffee machine and sit down to watch a famous home-improvements program, others might choose an exercise regime or indulge in a baking frenzy. All are opportunities to ‘switch off’ for a short period of time.
So, look to your own self-care. Be curious, look into your heart, think back to childhood, ask a friend – What can I do for myself? How can I care for myself? Who do I feel drawn to? Where can I find the thing that will bring me joy?
Don’t be afraid to act on this. As a friend once asked me “If not now, when?”. Well, now seems as good a time as any. Go on, you’re worth it.
What a Year That Was
The year 2020 imposed myriad challenges on people worldwide and left many reeling from the loss of much that was familiar. Every touchstone that we held onto seems to have been gathered up by an invisible Reaper and left a void where we once had a semblance of control over our lives. That sense, of having lost control, often follows a traumatic or life-changing event like bereavement, family breakdown or redundancy.
What bigger example of this happenstance than the outcomes from the world pandemic of Coronavirus on the global community. Some feel as though they are under virtual house arrest, some are in ITU units with poor long-term prognoses, some are bereft of a dearly loved family member or friend whilst others are unable to work, fearful of losing employment and, perhaps, relying on charity to feed their family. When human beings feel that loss of control over their own lives then they become fearful because everything that was once familiar now seems lost. Potentially resulting in feelings of detachment, disillusion, or dread.
Excluding the deeply painful experiences of those who have encountered bereavement, redundancy, loss of home or relationship breakdown - instances where professional support would be required to redress the issues; The situation experienced by many at this time is a community malaise, the symptoms might be different, the personal circumstances may vary but in essence, we are not in crisis, rather, we are ‘out of sorts’, confused, ‘off-balance’, simply wanting normality to return. So, what can we do about it?
Take a step back and identify what it is that most concerns you or causes unease.
Explore which area of your life has been most impacted by events:
Relationships; Employment; Family; Health and Well-being; Spirituality
Be curious, referencing these: What are you able, or unable, to deal with at this time.
Rationalise: (Ask yourself):
What am I dealing with?
Why is this causing me difficulty?
Where can I find support?
Who can I talk to?
When, and how, do I need to take further steps to redress the problem?
Set yourself small, achievable goals
Acknowledge and Appreciate, the goals that you have accomplished
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t accomplish every goal every day
Redress: (Take action!):
Maintain existing, and make new, Connections.
Replace a lost Activity with a new one.
Explore future Employment opportunities.
Take up a new Hobby.
Introduce a Routine into your life.
Recover: (Reclaim your life):
Reinstitute routine, Reinvigorate relationships, Refuse to let life get you down.
In words from the Book of Solomon “This too shall pass”. We will return to a world that is familiar, if somewhat changed by our experiences. The strictures we have endured will be gone, we will regain both a feeling of being in control and our self-determination. We will have learned something about ourselves, and others, that will inform how we go forward with our lives. We can choose optimism and determination and hope.