I said to a client recently: “It’s ok not to be Ok”. And he replied, “Really, ‘cause I am trying to be strong, I am trying to stay the course and I am finding it really hard – the goalpost keeps getting moved further away”.
This pandemic has turned everyone’s life upside down. We are all grieving. And, grief has a way to hit us a little bit harder and deeper every day. In other words, we absorb a little more of the reality every day. Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus and it is too big to comprehend its lethal impact all at once.
Covid-19 has upset our lives, it has robbed us of our freedom of movement, our ability to gather with friends, colleagues, neighbours and peers at restaurants, activities, workplaces, schools. It has placed another layer of stress and anxiety on everyone. And, we have no idea for how long. We do not know what normal is any more or what the new normal will be though we are hearing that some restrictions will be gradually lifted. (In Vancouver, BC – Thank goodness for Dr. Bonnie Henry, voice of knowledge and calm
So yes, it’s ok not to be ok. We, as a society, a world, are not OK now, we are in grief. It is important to acknowledge your feelings – own them, let the tears fall for a brief while. Yes, feel your feelings and then engage in a task. Don’t just dwell on the feelings. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, emotions are energy, they need to move through you, so move or focus on a task: play with your children, go for a run, garden, power walk, clean your house, paint a wall, dye your own hair – get busy.
If we are feeling-focused and stay stuck dwelling on the pain all day, the difficult feelings can intensify. If we acknowledge the feelings and then become task-focused the intense feelings will dissipate while we are engrossed in the task. In completing the task, we will feel a sense of accomplishment.
Gratitude is another way to become task-focused. Appreciate the little kindnesses from others and make sure you give back – a smile or nod can go a long way and mean so much to both you and the receiver.
Also, be outside at 7 pm and bang your pots, ring a bell or clap your hands and celebrate our health care and all essential workers. The nightly experience, the gratitude, the appreciation, the energy will give you a mental health boost. This experience signifies that we are all in this together and we will get through this.
These are difficult times. So it is OK not to be OK. It is important to own your feelings, understand them, acknowledge what is within your control and what is not within your control. Then focus on what is within your control.
Here are 5 tips to Implement:
- Set Up a daily routine: Structure is paramount to thrive in life – and now to cope. Routine gives you a daily road map. Research shows that we feel better if we shower and dress every day; Prepare and eat healthy meals; Exercise; read, and have a regular sleep schedule.
- Learn something new: carve out time daily or weekly for you to learn something new.
- Exercise daily: 15 minutes at least
- Go outside with a purpose: walk, garden, admire the garden, breathe in the fresh air
- Commit to doing acts of kindness: call a friend or family member, organize a face-time connection, smile at your loved ones; be outside at 7 pm to thank essential workers.
However, if your stressful feelings are interfering with your ability to cope with your daily life or fulfill your work obligations, reach out for professional help. Sometimes you may need to talk to an objective professional, a Registered Clinical Counsellor, in a confidential setting. During COVID-19 in Vancouver, private telephone sessions or secure online video sessions are the norm, so feel free to get in contact with me if you need professional guidance.