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As we learn to adapt again, now restrictions are lifting I hope I never hear the word ‘unprecedented’ spoken as frequently as it was in 2020; highlighting the overwhelming enormity of disruption to every aspect of our lives.
People’s generosity in supporting has never felt so important and valued in my lifetime, while the storm raged we discovered daily how to cope, survive and face uncertainty and loss.
As a trauma specialist, I am aware there is a pending tsunami of pain and loss, in fact it’s pretty much here –all expected and understandable, and those that can, will endeavour to support and help process this and we are already learning how to grieve differently.
Hence it is important to look at what constructive personal growth may arise from C19 times, and not just focus on the difficulties we have all experienced and witnessed.
So what better time to do this than the traditional Spring Clean time of year .Nature’s incredible way of re-emerging (often adapted)but nonetheless re born and re-formed from hard and lean times is a process we need to emulate as best we can by looking at how we can improve our personal lives post C19, harnessing the energy of spring , regrowth and rejuvenation.
Gratitude – Cleaning out a lot of the automatic focus on loss and what we have not got . More gratitude of the everyday small things , having awareness, being in the moment and valuing what we have right now .
Not having a sense of entitlement that had become so prevalent. No longer taking for granted anyone or anything. Gratitude grounds us, makes us more aware, focussed and connects us to each other in a caring and more productive manner. Even in rubbish times when feeling no hope and despair making a conscious move to find a small piece of something to be thankful for can just be enough to know there is hope beyond the pain. Small moments such as grateful for more freedom, , seeing loved ones (no longer all engaged on our phones whilst out for a meal), hugs, having a job, a good sleep, getting a parking space, a garden, sharing a joke etc- making this a daily focus will help and enhance your mood ( remember this is not toxic positivity , as we need to acknowledge the tough and painful emotions too) but little moments of noticing things to be grateful for can be just enough to stop us sinking .
Courage – Cleaning out a lack of self belief – We do not always realise just how amazing we are, until tested. At times our overthinking increases our lack of self-belief and blocks us from taking action or even trying. Courage is also knowing our limits and being able to say NO ,instead of people pleasing . We cannot have courage without fear, so reflecting on how we have faced this, from being a frontline worker dealing with situations no amount of training can ever truly prepare us for, to personal situations being trapped in Lockdown is important.
Learning to ask for help when struggling, battling physical and mental health issues, being able to sit with discomfort, all takes courage. Using new technology , finding different work, putting down your drug of choice , not self-harming , is courageous .
Don’t bench mark yourself against others, all narratives are relevant to you as an individual, be kind to yourself of how you have handled this personally. Amazing, be proud.
Ability to achieve – Cleaning out limiting self belief – C19 will have forced many of us to find new skills and utilise old ones – when our self-talk limits us, we carry on behaving off that script and it becomes our reality. C19 has taught us “I can, I am good enough and it’s ok not to be ok “.
The “I can’t, I am not good enough but I am ok, (when you are not )“only ever causes long term harm and limitations. Post lockdowns must help us realise our own self belief in our abilities. Achieving new skills from creativity , baking , using new technical devices, work, fitness, academic, cultural , patience , managing an anxiety attack, not relapsing, DIY, the list is endless – we are capable . Asking for help is an achievement .If I say “ I can’t “ I will follow that instruction , if I say “ I will try “ or even “ I can “ I have achieved. Emotional Success is when we simply give something a try, with no outcome expectation.
Who and what really matters – Cleaning out junk and burdens .This is the opportunity to evaluate the truth in our relationships and our lifestyle choices, realising how precious time actually is. Have we been filling our moments with things/people that really do not matter and are doing it out of pressure , guilt or insecurity? Or should we focus our energies enough in the areas that will fulfil and serve us well?
How much time did we waste our feelings ,energy , brain space and money on relationships and objects that really have no true value , and have been more about ego , false pride, false loyalty and fear of judgment or rejection , pretentiousness and even arrogance .
If we hoard too many unnecessary behaviours, emotions and lifestyle choices we are not able to be free enough to embrace what is of real worth to us. It’s time to declutter and be rid of junk in whatever form that takes in our life, freeing up space for genuine emotional, psychological, material ,intellectual and spiritual rewards with what really matters.
Physical and Mental Fitness Care– Cleaning up your self-care act! Savvy people are nearly always prepared .We must realise that taking our physical and mental health for granted makes us vulnerable.
We need to invest in self-care and self-respect, we are remarkable, intricate beings and yet do we always give the care and effort our bodies deserve? Assuming having good health is no longer a viable long term investment. Maintenance is key, which does not mean we have to be fanatical, but looking at what needs tweaking. Now is a poignant opportunity to evaluate our lifestyle choices and make changes to improve our immunity system, physical and mental fitness.
Mental health issues can be a real effort with this, so if you are fortunate enough not to have that struggle, why put yourself at a greater risk? We all must take a level of personal responsibility for our wellness, as we have now learnt in the most severe manner that health is fragile and precious.
Fun – Cleaning out your diary to accommodate fun! There will always be chores , but that can negate the space needed for actually enjoying yourself .We have been so busy striving and trying, in these stormy times humour has been such a gift to boost morale, alleviate stress and connect more. Note to self – make time for more fun, and as restrictions ease do not take recreational and play time for granted.
Take time to reflect on what else you have discovered about you since Covid 19, like nature let’s see how we can reform and maintain better.
Stay safe and stay grateful.
Dee Johnson – Senior Accred MBACP. MNCS Senior Accred. MRSPH
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