How has this lockdown been for you so far?
Most of us, if we’re honest, experience highs and lows at different times in our lives, but these lockdowns are testing even the most resilient of us. Whatever your circumstance, it is probably fair to say the struggles are more frequent and are lasting longer than ever before. Or maybe it just feels that way! Everything also seems that bit worse because we know that everyone we care about and may have turned to for support in the past, is living through their own version of the same challenging time.
Pre-Covid I think it’s fair to say that it was a pretty common phenomenon to feel like we were being pulled in every direction. There is often a lot of pressure to do well at work, be the perfect son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, be fit and healthy and while you’re juggling all of that, achieve perfect mental wellbeing. In lockdown, we still feel we have to achieve this state of family bliss, career satisfaction and calm state of mind, while many of us are locked indoors for most of the day, or leaving the house with increased levels of anxiety, with many of our coping mechanisms removed.
It’s OK to ask for help
Awareness of mental health is much better now than it has ever been before, but we still have a long way to go until everyone, in all walks of life, feel comfortable asking for help. I can’t imagine there are many people that don’t need a bit of extra help at some point in their lives, whether from family or friends, or from a third party who is completely removed from their every day lives.
Over time, through support I have received through the highs and lows of life including plenty of love and support from family and friends and I admit, some professional help in both career and personal realms, I have learned some valuable lessons. Two in particular have stuck with me. I thought I would share them in case they can help anyone else.
Aim to be good enough – none of us can be perfect all the time and yet so many of us strive for exactly that. And then feel utterly disappointed when we fall short of that perfection. Instead, aim to be good enough. This may sound a bit harsh at first, but as it was explained to me, by asking yourself if you’re good enough, you’re not letting yourself off the hook completely. If the kids are hungry and beyond dirty, there is probably a problem. If you’re missing every deadline at work and rarely turning up on time, that’s probably not good enough for your employer. However, if your kids have a bit more screen time than you’d like, in order for you to be able to do your work, do household chores, or even to sit down and have a quiet few minutes, that’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s probably the best thing you can do for all of you. If you make the odd mistake at work or you finish on time instead of working late for a change, that’s good enough.
Feel what you feel – As I said before, awareness of mental health is so much better these days, which can only be a good thing. Too many people struggle on when they’re finding things difficult because we think everyone else is managing. We believe that everyone else is coping with everyday stresses and indeed sometimes far worse things than we’re dealing with ourselves, and yet we can’t match their seemingly happy and positive outlook. It can make you feel like something is wrong with you. But that’s not the case. The good news, sort of, is that everyone is probably struggling as much as you and again, no-one is perfect. No-one can be genuinely happy and ‘fine’ every minute of every day so it’s ok to allow yourself to feel what you feel. In fact, the simple act of letting yourself acknowledge your feelings, even better sharing those feelings with someone else, will probably make you feel a bit better. My personal experience has been that fighting against those feelings causes a lot more pain and discomfort than accepting them and sitting with them for as long as is necessary.
I’d love to hear your coping mechanisms for life and more specifically life in lockdown. Are there things your inner dialogue reminds you of time and time again to help you through?