We are creatures of habit and even for the most chilled, go with the flow person, change is scary and can bring on a myriad of emotions. Going through transition periods in life can often make us feel quite wobbly! The loosening of lockdown restrictions this week has made me feel excited to be able to see others outside of my family and at the same time anxious about moving out of this comfort bubble we’ve built.
When Lockdown was first imposed, it felt like we were entering into an impossible task. How on earth will we manage to stay home? Homeschooling, working from home, no socialising, no get togethers to celebrate birthdays, achievements or births, no travelling, no holidays.....It’s going to be awful, I thought. I felt unsure how me and my husband and two primary school aged boys were going to manage —being in the same house together–all day everyday. EEK! I wondered––will we come through this still intact? What impact will this have on my children’s mental health and development? What impact will it have on my and my husbands relationship? Sure we love each other and choose to be with each other, but I don’t think any of us really thought that meant all day everyday, am I right? I don’t think we’d ever spent this much time together ever!
Don’t get me wrong there have been some truly difficult days and weeks. And I am fully conscious there are so many who have suffered immeasurable loss and have endured much worse than I have. Thankfully my family have resurfaced with not only something salvageable, but a new understanding of each other and our individual wants and needs. More than that I’m pretty proud of the way we’ve pivoted and adapted to working from home and with each other. It wasn’t as hideous as I initially initially envisaged and we’ve even managed to enjoy a lot of things. This crazy time of forced change has allowed me to re-evaluate my life, my work, my schedule and over the course of these 10 weeks I’ve realised some of these changes I'd like to keep where possible.
I'm not a regular sufferer of anxiety, but reflecting on the enormity of what we’ve been through and how to move forward holding onto some of these new ways, all whilst navigating stepping back out into the world is overwhelming. I'm trying to stay calm and grounded by doing these things.
Physical activity–It sounds contradictory but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can help reduce your mental stress! Joseph Pilates said “Change happens through movement and movement heals”. And it’s so true! Movement has this amazing ability to lift your mood by boosting your endorphins giving you a natural high.
Human connection—Social support is so important. Reach out, connect with a friend a therapist a family member (maybe someone you haven’t spent the last 10 weeks with mind) a colleague. Embrace the opportunity and enjoy a picnic in the park with a small group of friends! This feels pretty amazing by the way.
Cuddle—Positive touch from cuddling, hugging, kissing and sex may help lower stress by releasing oxytocin and lowering blood pressure. Did you know that Chimpanzees also cuddle friends who are stressed.
Journaling—Check in with yourself. How do you feel? Write it down! Get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper. My personal favourite is Gratitude Journaling — jotting down what you’re grateful for. Gratitude can help relieve stress and anxiety by helping focus your thoughts on the positive things in your life. Even re-reading previous writings of what you’re grateful for can be uplifting.
Laughter—It really is the best medicine. Research suggests that laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and stress and in the long term, laughter may even help improve your immune system and mood!