We are facing an unprecedented time at the moment, where many, if not most of our routines and habits are having to be adapted to get on with our lives. You may or may not experience symptoms of anxiety, worry and fear about the situation and the future. However, it is likely that the pandemic and consequent lockdown are having an impact on your routine and the way you are used to doing things.
You may be having to share your space with family members, people you love but you are not used to seeing all day, you may have had to negotiate your space to be able to work, or make space for someone else to do their job from home. If you have children, they are now at home and you need to make time for them and think of activities to keep them entertained. You may not have been able to see loved ones who do not live with you or postpone plans with friends.
If you go to the gym or you have a hobby, you will have had to put this on hold, and you probably have to queue to shop your groceries.
Our brains like familiarity, and we tend to stick to some sort of routine, so the lockdown is likely to be causing some disruption to what you are used to doing.
What might you be noticing?
- Difficult feeling and thoughts are likely to be showing up at this time. Fear, worry, sadness, anger, frustration and sometimes, you may even get a combo of them.
- These thoughts and feelings may be pulling you away from the person you like to be and the life you want to live. You may be snacking more, snapping more easily at others, feeling that you are not managing to achieve the goals you set for the day or the week, etc.
What can you do?
So, what can you do to help you get through day when these difficult thoughts and feelings show up? Here are 3 simple steps that may help:
- When you notice these thoughts and feelings, pause and acknowledge them. Try to give them a name. This can be simply a name for the emotion, but you can also describe it, “it’s like a knot on my heart or my belly”, “my head feels heavy or light”, “my body feels numb”, etc.
- Move your body and change posture, stretch your legs and/your arms, stand up, stretch your neck and notice the space that creates, and the sensation on your muscles. Then look around and notice aspects of the room you are in. Notice things of a particular colour. Notice sounds outside of the room and inside of the room. If there is furniture near you, touch it and notice the surface. Is it soft or rough, is it cold or warm? These steps help your brain engage with what’s happening right now.
- Remember what’s important to you, what you stand for. Is being a caring person important to you? Is your family a key part of your life? Do you have a dream, a project, ideas that you’ve been mulling over for a while that bring a spark in you? Do you want to remain healthy and fit? Where you planning to develop your own business? Do you feel invested and value your job?
What’s important to us can serve as a compass that shows us the direction we can take without being prescriptive about how to get there. So, within the circumstances you are in, how can you show that you care about others you live with or you can’t see at the moment? What can you do that will help you feel connected to your job, your work colleagues or your business? What steps can you take today that will help you move towards your values?
And repeat these steps as often as needed.
These steps won’t change the challenging times we are in, but they’ll help you be the person you want to be and connect with the values you want to live by in the face of the uncertainty and life changes we are experiencing.
By Lola Perez-Gavino, Clinical Psychologist
For more info about services check: www.lolaperezgavinopsychology.co.uk