Nourishing Yourself In Uncertain Times
What we often see in disaster situations is a lag between the event and the psychological impact on the people affected - which in this case is pretty much everyone.
What I know from my work with Mothers over the past two years is that the mental health impact of the pandemic is significant, and I fear the worst is still to come.
Living in uncertainty for this length of time with some of the strictest restrictions in the world has taken its toll. Energy is low, apathy is high and our capacity to cope with what would have previously been minor issues isn’t what it used to be.
There’s no way of knowing what’s coming in 2022 – at this point we probably wouldn’t be surprised by much.
I actually started writing this article a year ago and had titled it: ‘How to Pandemic-Proof Your 2021’.
This now seems almost arrogant – if I had understood the impact this year (on top of 2020) was going to have on people, I would have known that thinking one could avoid being affected by the shitshow this year has been, was at best, naïve.
So, if we can’t completely pandemic proof our lives, what can we do to help cope with all this uncertainty and constant change? Something I often talk about with clients is turning our focus onto the things we can control and coming to accept/let
go of the things we can’t. And it’s true, there are plenty of things we can take control of. For example:
1) Be flexible.
Something we talk about in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is holding thoughts and feelings lightly – the same can go for our plans, goals, and intentions. Anticipating that plans you make may well not come to fruition and keeping expectations low can help reduce disappointment and heartbreak when things don’t go as planned (while acknowledging how exhausting this is over a prolonged
period). Flexibility is the key here.
2) Get clear on your values and checking in on these frequently.
Get curious with yourself…are your actions aligned with these values? What needs to change? Where are you saying, ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’? Creating the time
and space to reflect on this regularly can lead to the feeling of being more present in your life and more overall fulfillment.
3) Allocate time to just ‘be’.
We all need some time to decompress after what we’ve experienced over the past two years. Schedule downtime for rest and to sit with and process your emotions. There could be a number of things taking your emotional energy right now. You can do this either in therapy or alone with your journal. Maybe you’ve been suppressing these feelings and you’re using other coping strategies such as emotional eating or mindless scrolling to keep the lid on them for now – this is totally understandable. At some point though they’ll need to come out and being conscious about working through them is preferable to unconsciously projecting them onto other people.
4) Fill up your emotional cup as much as possible – you never know when you might need to draw from it.
Meditation; yoga; walking or running in nature; catching up with your friends who nourish your soul; resting/napping; book reading; therapy; gratitude, mindfulness, and self-compassion practices…. whatever it is that keeps your cup full – now is the time to prioritise it before you’re calling on these things as crisis interventions.
5) Keep your physical health in check.
Is there something you’ve been putting off getting checked out or fixed? Make that phone call now and get yourself booked in for the new year! Prioritising eating well, drinking plenty of water, getting to bed early and exercising regularly are the obvious ones, but are often what we neglect amongst the busyness of life.
6) Resource yourself well.
What can you outsource, delegate, or ask for help with? Get on it! Don’t forget, people love to feel helpful. This might also be accessing paid help, which means you’re helping to put food on another family’s table. Bringing awareness to these things will hopefully increase your capacity to cope if we end up with more of the same in 2022, but this plan is of course not fail-proof. Most people will be experiencing accumulated depletion so getting back to a place of balance will be hard enough, let alone adding in the extra buffers I’ve listed above. So go gently and
speak to yourself with kindness while making time to do things that nourish your body, mind, and soul.
You've got this.
If you are seeking emotional support, space-holding, counselling, mentoring or longer-term therapy, I provide individual one-off sessions, six session packages and a three-month immersive support package starting on February 1. You can find all the details on my website: www.katieparker.com.au.