What happens if we look round and feel like we are not reacting the way that we think we should? Is there a right way to feel when the world is upside down? How do we take care of ourselves when we feel out of sync?
With the return to a little bit of normality beginning, and children and teenagers returning to school, there are mixed messages, feelings and attitudes right now- and none of them are wrong.
Whilst some are worried about what we have missed out on with learning
Others are concerned about the impact so much time at home has had on well-being
Whilst others are battling with their mental health, such as anxieties, fears and worries
For some, they don’t know if they feel ready to make the leap
The thing is, that ALL of these concerns are completely ok.
Since the first lockdown, there has been a lot to process:
- Time away from routines
- Missing family
- Losing time with friends
- Health concerns for ourselves and those we know
- Employment changes
- Financial concerns
- Mixed messages in the media
- Social media input
- Conflicting views
When we experience such a huge change, it is completely normal for the brain to experience trauma, and move into hyper vigilance and survival mode.
When we are in this state, processing what is happening is put on pause, as we focus on getting through the day.
When the first lockdown released, we saw a surge in mental health concerns for young people (and adults) and just as we started accessing help, the second lockdown in November quickly started. Once again, we challenged uncertainty, mixed feelings and emotions and for many, the feeling of pressure began to escalate. When Christmas was subsequently impacted, followed by the January lockdown, more and more people entered survival. Whether they looked at it as, keeping their heads down, hiding, getting on, working through the day, everyone has been affected in different ways.
There is no right or wrong in trauma.
It’s perfectly ok if you have thrived
It’s perfectly ok if every day has felt like a total battle
It’s perfectly ok if you are angry, fed up or disappointed
It’s perfectly ok if you feel like you are existing and not living
It’s perfectly ok if you haven’t got a clue what you feel
There is no rule book.
Everyone’s brains are processing this at different rates.
Some have processed it as we have moved through.
Some are processing right now
Some will not process for a few weeks
Others will not process for a few months or even a year or two after normality resumes.
Our lives have been inconceivably changed, and with that, time, safety and routines are paramount to helping the healing process.
So, right now, if all you focus on is safety, well-being and connection – you are not wrong.
If, you feel well and functioning, focusing on progress is also absolutely fine.
What is not fine, is to expect everyone to process this pathway in the same way.
If ever kindness mattered, to ourselves and others – it is now. We all remain in our own boats, canoes, yachts and dinghies in a storm – that has not changed. The storm has changed direction, but it is not yet over, and some people’s boats are further ahead in the exit route than others.
So, if you need to rest, take things slowly and just focus on each day as it comes, please give yourself permission to. If you are ready to seize life and start engaging in the world, please give yourself permission to do so.
Our focus is not to judge what others do, they are doing what THEY need, just as YOU are doing what you need. And, all our needs are different right now. They may even be different within your family.
Here’s 7 things you can do right now….
#1 – Take it one day at a time – This is not a sprint, it’s a slow marathon. We don’t have to worry about next week, next month or the summer. We just need to focus on today, and putting one foot ahead of the other. Keep routines tight, keep structure in place and focus on just one or two small things at a time.
#2 – Declutter the unnecessaries – There is a great deal of overwhelm of ‘what I should have done’ at the moment. We cannot change the past, but we can sit with our children and teenagers and look at what they have on their perceived ‘to do’ list and what the priorities are so that they can reduce the overwhelm. Then work together to get those key components done.
#3 – Get outside – Winter months, central heating and dark nights have taken their toll. Getting outside in the daylight raises our serotonin levels and lifts our mood naturally. Ensure that every day there is opportunity to get outdoors and top up levels.
#4 – Tidy up – When we are surrounded by clutter and mess we start to feel messy. There is also a school of thought that our environment is representative of the state of our minds. Taking time out to tidy up bedrooms and living environments so that things feel clear and open has huge benefits to our mental health and well-being. Before we start to tackle the to do list – clean up and get things in order.
#5 – Factor in some rewards – Rewards don’t have to be physical, it could be that we are going to get one 40 minutes of revision done before lunch, or get a piece of homework complete before going for a walk outdoors, or practicing 5 questions on a past paper before taking the dog out. Breaking our to do list into segments and having something to look forward to or give us a ‘break’ at the end of each can be a great motivator.
#6 – Make your soul happy – Work, work and more work – since January many young people feel like slaves to their laptops and iPads. Many of us, adults included, have stopped doing things that make our souls happy in this time. So, why not plan some activities into the week which pick us up and leave us feeling good – a favourite meal, a walk, a board game, an activity – whatever your guilty pleasures are – factor some time in for them.
#7 – Use your senses – When we feel overwhelmed, our brains can feel exhausted. Taking some time to reconnect with our senses is the perfect way to regulate our emotions and feel more grounded. Bubble baths, sensory play dough, messy play, arts and crafts, baking your favourite meals, aromatherapy, a walk in nature or some candle melts can all be a perfect way to bring ourselves back down to ground level.