That we behave in unexpected ways

Who of us would ordinarily hang out of our living room window or stand on the doorstep and clap on a Thursday evening for the efforts of people we will never meet? When would we go out of our way to avoid others? Perhaps panic buying or hypochondria have affected some and stress or anxiety others.

It is said often of crises that they bring out the best and worst in people and not since the second world war has that been tested so thoroughly. Resilience is ingrained in us but at times like this it can be tested severely.

Mother nature cannot read a room

Sometimes life has a natural way of teaching us lessons but rarely in a discriminating way. The corrections to our over-heating market, pollution-choked world and under-appreciated services has driven some remarkable changes. Changes like greater social cohesion, appreciation for simpler lives and doing more than watching Netflix all day have been some of the great benefits we have acquired. It seems like nature has a way of managing those things amazingly for us.

Maybe not all of those benefits will be lasting and they certainly come at a cost: a very high cost for some. Correcting the way we live in such a drastic and sudden way inevitably costs jobs, income, physical and mental well-being and of course lives. One way or another, we will never forget this time and the lessons we have learned from it.

We are Grieving

There is loss in an event like this: loss of freedom, routine, physical contact, work, money. Do not be surprised if your moods reflect those of a grieving person. It is a shock; it is unbelievable, it is likely to make us frustrated and angry; and for a brief moment each morning we may forget that it is real.

Dealing with loss, like dealing with a pandemic, is a process. It is not something that you can go around. You need to go through it day by day.

You do not have to go through it alone however. I like the way the World Health Organisation shifted their language (sadly too late to catch on) from ‘social distancing’ to ‘physical distancing’. I am speaking to clients online regularly and even though we are not in the same room, we are in the same social space.

Reaching out to someone who cares about you can be just the help you need to just get through another day.

Losing our minds

It may feel that we are out of control because, let’s face it, we have less influence over day to day life at the moment. One thing we do still have control of though is how we think.

Our subconscious minds process things in a non-discriminating, black and white sort of way and that can be really helpful with things like driving the car fairly automatically, breathing while we are asleep, locking the door on our way out.

It can be less helpful when dealing with stress and anxiety. It is not unusual for people to mentally shut-down when they feel overwhelmed or even panic. It can feel protective and unavoidable. So can over-eating. Consciously we know very well that these ‘coping’ mechanisms are not healthy but something primitive deep down is saying, it will help us forget the reality of life.

The subtle balancing mechanism we use consciously every day to manage often complex decisions is perhaps underused in situations like this. Ask yourself ‘what would I prefer to feel?’ Can I consciously think about this situation differently so that I can start to feel that way? Use it as an opportunity? Make lasting changes to my home, my life, my relationships? You do have control: you are not losing your mind and you can still make choices about how to respond to your situation.

If you are finding it hard to cope and you need to talk to someone, make an appointment.