Firstly, a quick message to everyone who has read this blog over the last year. I hope that you are okay and are finding some sources of comfort and contentment in what are extremely difficult circumstances. Everyone at The DMC Clinic wants to convey that our thoughts are with our clients, readers and friends at this time. Two months ago, who would have thought we’d be talking about ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’. Or that be the end of this we’d all be experts in ‘flattening the curve’ or ‘cocooning’! But this has simply turned our worlds upside down.
Two weeks ago Leanne provided some brilliant tips on how to manage your mental health during this pandemic (https://thedmcclinic.ie/coping-with-covid-19/). This month I will describe how I am handling Covid-19 on a personal level:
Gauge how you are ‘owning’ your reaction to this challenge: There is a massive difference between awareness and panic. With awareness there is a sense of showing ownership of how we let something impact us, a respect for the scale of the problem, and a calm consciousness of what we need to do. Ask yourself, “how am I truly reacting to this”, “what is not working for me”, “what can I change to make this better”?
Reflect positively and constructively: As much as possible, I am using this time to reflect gently on many aspects of my life. Hopefully we will never have to go through this again. But I am trying to seize the opportunity provided to critically reflect upon the therapeutic work I do with clients, what things I want to work on at a personal level, and setting some short term goals instead of long term aspirations. Simple things like ‘read a book this week’, ‘do something new today’ or ‘don’t bang my head against the wall repeatedly when the kids are driving me crazy’! Taking a lens of reflection offers a mindful image of consideration of the work that has occurred, or yet to occur.
Stay informed, but with discipline: I have found that following the media too closely and constantly searching social media for the latest updates has not been good for my mood. I always like to stay informed, but I have had to introduce a set of rules. 1. Only trust reliable media, 2. only listen to the HSE when it comes to data and advice, and 3. set a limit to the amount of time you spend on social media.
Check in with your feelings: Last month’s blog (before Covid19) described how our world can be turned upside down when the ‘rug is pulled out from under our feet’ (https://thedmcclinic.ie/overcoming-fear/). However, the first step in ‘overcoming fear’, is allowing yourself to feel fear in the first place. This applies to all feelings…. get to know the feelings, spend time with them so we can understand them. Right now, there is a cocktail of emotions flowing through me. I am happy to be able to spend so much time with my kids. I am sad that my extended family have not been able to meet my new son. I am fearful for what the future holds, and the scars that society might bear after all this is over. I am lonely for aspects of my life that I miss. I was saddened when my daughter could not play with her friend when they met on the lane during the week on our daily exercise. I am allowing myself to explore these feelings and see how they are impacting me.
I’ll close with 2 observations:
- ‘Flattening the curve’ is an interesting concept that refers to the rate of infection. I also think it is very applicable to mental health. Almost every article written for this blog over the last year is in some way relatable to what is going on currently (Self compassion, Overcoming Fear, Emotional Eating). Pass some time by reading through some of them again. There may be something in there that can help you ‘flatten the curve’ of your mood, anxiety, depression.
- Butterflies emerge from Cocoons. Lets to everything we can to emerge from this better than we went into it.
Take care. Stay safe. Don’t repeatedly bang your head against the wall like me.
The article is written by Noel, Trainee Counsellor at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment