It has been a true rollercoaster of a year, with what seems like crisis after crisis, and no definitive end in sight. The world feels topsy-turvy at the moment and is throwing us new emotions and realities to evaluate and digest on a pretty regular basis.
So how do we keep our heads straight while we navigate an unpredictable world? And how do we move ourselves into a new sense of normality, as restrictions ease around our country?
The threat and severity of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), as it spread throughout the globe, took most of us by surprise. It seemed only a matter of weeks between first hearing of the threat and having it directly impact our own lives in very real, and frightening ways. No one seemed to know exactly what we were dealing with, or how best to fend it off – and many of us didn’t have the option of isolating or working from home.
And now, as restrictions slowly ease, and the threat in Australia seems to have abated, we need to try to re-enter the world and figure out what feels normal, and what feels right. After the surreal experience of fighting an ‘invisible battle’, where we started to view each other with suspicion, condition ourselves to resist the very human impulse to show affection, and quash the urge to socially connect with each other in person…. we now feel expected to go back to normal without these same feelings and thoughts in our minds!
So here are a few points to be aware of:
1. Expect Unexpected Emotions
While we’ve all been focused on the physical restrictions and behaviours required to deal with Coronavirus, it’s easy to dismiss the unfamiliar waves of emotions as being just part of what has been a very strange time. Yet it’s important we tune into those feelings, recognise them and practice self-care.
2. Manage Expectations
Everyone responds at a different pace, so it’s important to manage your expectations. One major factor in this is recognising your feelings, even if they are unpleasant or difficult. Often in situations that feel overwhelming we may feel like we can’t cope, or you may notice a desire to return to isolation. It’s important to remember these are just thoughts you’re having, and you can change them. Don’t over-expose yourself to news or social media (something you hopefully learned during the pandemic). This is when it’s important to talk about it with someone – a friend, a family member or a team mate. We are all feeling a strange mix of emotions at the moment.
3. Take a Reality Check
If you are feeling anxious as you move around in society once again, be sure to take a reality check. Look at the relevant data and keep it in perspective. We live in a country where our medical resources are first class, and our medical system is highly regulated. Australia’s rates of transmission are very low and out of a population of around 25 million people our death toll currently sits at 102 people with majority of deaths occurring in males aged between 70 and 89 years of age. Over 6,700 have recovered from the virus. If we are sensible, practice good hygiene and make wise decisions of how we move around, the chances of contracting Coronavirus are very unlikely.
4. Pay Mind to Your Mental Fitness
Staying mentally ‘fit’ by cultivating a positive mindset isn’t about denying what is really going on, it’s about noticing the positive things, even in difficult or uncertain situations. A ‘growth’ mindset views challenges or setbacks as opportunities to learn something new and make changes as a person. This is the perfect time to adopt that approach.
The future is going to change. Businesses will close, jobs will be lost, there will be suffering in our communities and within our families and friendship groups. Be there for the people you care about, be there for your team mates. Ask if they are ok, and keep an open and honest dialogue about the changes we are all experiencing.
6. Ask for Help
You may not be feeling quite yourself, perhaps you’ve started to experience symptoms of ‘stress’ such as headaches, digestive problems, trouble concentrating, becoming short-tempered or impatient. We all have different early warning signs and we should take note of them. They may signal anxiety or other threats to your mental wellbeing. If you are feeling increasingly anxious, negative, overwhelmed, or despairing of the future, reach out for help.
7. Know You Are Doing Enough
Whatever you are doing, it is enough. And accept that every day ‘enough’ may look vastly different!