BACK TO LIFE, BACK TO REALITY
While most people will be overjoyed to see restrictions in Ireland being eased, we have to acknowledge that as Covid-19 persists many remain uncomfortable while others have simply adjusted to an isolated lifestyle.
Here are some tips from Dr Hannah McCormack to help you through…
At various stages during the Covid-19 pandemic, people across Ireland closed their doors and removed themselves from any position of vulnerability. Children didn’t go to school, offices lay empty while our rugby champions became accustomed to the echoes of their voices in empty stadiums.
While these restrictive measures were integral to protecting our physical health and wellbeing, they also prompted people to feel isolated and removed from friends, family, and society as a whole.
Throughout the lockdown, everybody was encouraged to remain connected with their support network so as to protect their mental health and wellbeing. Consequently, bonds with family members and close friends grew stronger. It was these relationships that enabled us to navigate their way through a difficult period.
Now that doors are being thrust open again, many are determined to reconnect with those who may have strayed. However, we must continue to place our focus on the positive relationships in our lives, especially those key reciprocal relationships that sustained us over the past 18 months.
Be mindful that there may be some people in your support network who are daunted by the opening up of society, not least because Covid-19 still persists. Perhaps you have even experienced some personal unease in the sudden change of social dynamic.
People react to things differently. Therefore, everyone should go at their own pace. The ability to listen is a key foundation of any relationship. If you have worked on your relationships, you (or they) may be in a position to share concerns without fear of judgment.
Plans can also be adapted. For instance, don’t compel people to join you to watch a game in a busy pub. Instead, organise meeting up in ways that both of you are comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Inevitably, the boundaries of your comfort zone will be tested, but you don’t have to dive into the social pool feet first.
Areas of the App to use: Support Network Your Relationships
By building your own awareness of what might be stressful or worrisome situations you can begin to practice empathy for what might cause stress or worry for others. Even if you’re content to watch a game in the pub, others might view it as stress inducing. We can only control what is within our control. How others feel or act is not in our control but our acceptance of them is.
There is never a wrong emotion to experience, and we should never apologise for how we are feeling. Even if that feeling does not help our situation, we must accept it and try to move forward. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to recognise and accept your feelings and afford the same to others.
Being sound to yourself can also be beneficial. Assess your level of comfort, chat with friends, trusted family members or seek professional help – it’s always good to do an audit of where you are at.
Areas of the App to use: Self Compassion Stress Be Sound* and Worry Mindfulness
Communication is the gateway to forging stronger relationships with the key people in our lives and can also set positive boundaries for our own health, safety, and wellbeing. Practicing our communication skills can help us to transition back into a post-lockdown world with greater ease.
Areas of the App to use: Communication, Recognising Anger, Communicating Anger
The Power of Saying No
While the country is reopening and restrictions are easing, we have to get used to a new way of conducting ourselves. You have every right to take this at your own pace and make decisions that are best for you and your loved ones’ physical and mental health. As such there may be cases and situations where you feel pressurised to do something that you don’t want to i.e. meeting up with more people outside of your bubble or attending gatherings that you are not comfortable with. In these situations, it is important for you to learn the power of saying no, putting yourself and your mental health and wellbeing first. While we cannot lock ourselves away from things indefinitely, we are allowed to refuse to participate in things that do not align to our values or to our health and safety and that of our friends and family.
Areas of the App to use: Power of Saying No, Values, Communication
Self-care is an integral aspect of positive mental wellbeing. This was never more obvious than during the height of the pandemic when the world was filled with complexities.
Many people will have practiced self-care throughout the lockdown. Such positive habits should be maintained.
More importantly, self-care will give you the patience to re-emerge at a pace you are comfortable with, recognising what and who (only you) is in your control. Do not feel guilty for being worried, do not be frustrated if you feel more apprehensive than you thought you would be, and be proud of the positive steps you are able to take, however minimal they may be. This can be a marathon not a sprint, and the best way to complete a marathon is one step at a time!
Areas of the App to Use: Self-Care, Self-Compassion, Mindfulness, Signature Strengths
Gratitude is a proven mechanism to increasing life satisfaction and overall happiness, thus contributing to your positive mental health and wellbeing. Rather than focusing on the things that we do not have, no longer can do or what we might be worried will come in the future, gratitude enables us to take stock of the good things in our life right now and may be as simple as a cup of tea. Gratitude is a personal thing, what you are grateful for should be specific to the good things in your life.
Practicing gratitude can make us feel more satisfied with how we are approaching the situation we are in as well as make us more optimistic for the future, thus encouraging us to keep moving forward with our reintegration into society/back to “normal”.
Areas of the App to Use: Gratitude