The last 6 months have been the most disconcerting of my life and unfortunately, they can be summed up in a series of slogans and catchphrases. First, we were ‘Stopping the spread’, followed by ‘Flattening the curve’, swiftly backed up by what we were told was the ‘New Normal’. This month the Irish Government gave us a new one called ‘Living with Covid’. Personally, I find the whole thing a bit exhausting, and I know how important it is for me to spot that and not invest too much time in the headlines, taglines, and twitter feeds.
However, the ‘Living with Covid’ message is one that I can pay attention to. Not from the perspective of restrictions and levels, but from the point of view of how I will approach the next 6 months. It is almost 12 months ago since I wrote an article on Seasonal Affective Disorder, and this Autumn and Winter it is more important than ever to spend time working on mental wellbeing and development in order to avoid what some might experience as a ‘seasonal dip’. So how do we do that? Here is what I am working on with some of my clients at The DMC Clinic:
Embrace Flexibility – Everything around us is evolving, so sticking to rigid approaches that have provided certainty and control in the past may not be as reliable this year. Instead try to go with the uncertainty and embrace a sense of flexibility in your day. Whether it is working environments, childcare arrangements or social gatherings and celebrations, it is going to be very difficult to plan anything with a guarantee that it will run smoothly. Be OK with things not going perfect. In some ways try to ‘care less’ about perfection.
Practice Gratitude – Tilt our thinking somewhat in order to divert our focus away from what is going badly or the negativity in the world, and instead draw attention to what has been enjoyed or gone well. Even the small things. In doing so, being thankful for things as simple as nature around us or the friends in our corner, we can increase our resilience and adapt a whole new way of thinking.
Get some sleep – Although sleep has always been a priority for health, the world is having to adapt to unprecedented changes to our routines. One of the core foundations of our mental wellbeing is sleep, so it is worth spending time identifying how you are sleeping when stressed, anxious or worried. Creating a healthy and consistent sleep pattern when our days are so scattered, can greatly help with improved mental health.
Reach out to your connections – We have spoken a lot on this blog about the importance of ‘connection’. We have evolved to be social creatures. Some like this more than others, and for many being socialising can create anxiety in itself. However, for many people social connection is an important part of living happily. Though we might be encouraged to socially distance from others, try to ensure that this is done at a physical level only. Use whatever means necessary to keep in contact with those relationships that are good for you and nourish you. It does not necessarily have to be through technology either. Simply by going for a walk can ensure connections are kept strong.
Finally, try making your own slogan. ‘Living with Covid’ sounds as if this is a period that has to be endured. It can be more than that. This winter you can go beyond ‘Living with Covid’.
Aim to Thrive through Covid.
The article is written by Noel, Pre-Accredited and Newly Qualified 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.