With October behind us and winter approaching, it is a time to encourage preparation for making the best of the next 4 months – winter, often a time when we settle into our roots and tie things down.
It’s been a long haul since Covid 19 first touched our shores and lockdown began, we have all experienced a life of ups and downs and uncertainties. It might feel like now that many restrictions have been lifted, there is a sense of being out of the woods. But what are we coming back out into? Have we adjusted to a new normal, and if we’ve consciously made changes to our lifestyle, have we kept going with those decisions? How do we feel about the changes we have made? Have things happened in your life that you didn’t anticipate? Have you chosen a different way of life since lockdown and managed to return to a life without bringing back the things that stressed you out?
Many people during lockdown faced a new routine of working from home, realising they might like to reevaluate how they have been living their lives, and think about what is working/not working and may have made a conscious decision to take a slower pace for example. Many people will have lost their jobs and may be travelling in a completely new direction than they were pre Covid 19 pandemic.
As well as changing the way we work and live, have we changed the way in which we support others, and look after ourselves? Do we take time to remind ourselves to relieve tension, focus on self-healing, self-care, after going through the changes we have faced over the last year and a half or so?
Perhaps, we are aware of a much more ongoing compassionate approach to others with self-reflection and contemplation. The lockdown and changes in our world sometimes exposed a more human and caring side to people. Have you spoken to people more closely than before, people you’ve never met for example, in call centre, through conversations about us all being in the same situation or working from home, discussions were struck up that perhaps before we may not have had the opportunity to do… it has been reported in the media people’s connections with home and work exposed a more human side to mostly everyone.
With the ongoing changes, and for some a new way of life, plus heading into winter, many of us may be feeling fatigued by ongoing problems the pandemic has thrust upon us. With lots of people still catching Covid, managing work and home schooling. Maybe you’ve worked constantly through the pandemic, and not had the opportunity to change or reassess your lifestyle, and you’re feeling burnt out?
Many people in the hospitality industry have suffered, and now venues are opening once again, many of us view ‘going out’ to be not as necessary or desirable as before. This may mean you could be missing the spontaneity that life used to be about.
With the furlough scheme finishing many people face going back to work with yet more uncertainty and the winter months and Christmas looming with the feeling of trepidation that perhaps it could all be cancelled again.
How Do We Stay Happy with Ongoing Uncertainty and Dealing With Pandemic Fatigue?
Take a WOW Walk
It is common for people to report feeling burnt out by the ongoing stress of Covid 19 and all it has brought to our lives and those around us. There are some simple things you can do through winter to keep you energised. It might seem easy to stay inside as the weather gets colder, but a nice even short walk outside on an autumnal or winter day can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. At LLTTF we like to call them WOW Walks. You may ask: What is a WoW Walk? Well, it goes something like this…. If you focus on really noticing what’s around you when you take a walk, you will see that the world really is full of wonders.
But more than that it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.
It improves mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people are more likely to maintain their health and wellbeing, and staying active often helps those who are depressed recover.
Remember to Slow Down
Try and remind yourself that it is good to slow down from time to time. The last couple of years have have offered some of us the chance to:
1). Slow down and reflect on our lives – rather than living life at full speed?
2). Pay more attention to the world around us as we perhaps walk more and discover local places of interest and have the chance to look at our local area differently?
3). Make changes in areas of our lives or relationships that need repair or altered direction?
4). Spend time with others such as family, and friends walking and talking. Or perhaps reconnect to important people from the past who we have somehow lost contact with along the way?
What might you be thankful for?
If you want to Slow Down and Be more thankful, our book and resources are a handy guide to learning to practice mindfulness and see things as they really are and help you to tackle the tough times with a clearer picture of what really is going on.
What to Do If You Fear the Future
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of what the future may hold. Our Tension Control Training (TCT) can be a very useful tool for aiding relaxation and improving your sleep. Take a look here at our resources.
Using our TCT handout and the two linked audio relaxation files, you can learn a method of achieving a state of calm relaxation simply by concentrating your mind on relaxing thoughts rather than unhelpful, fearful thoughts.
The key to this approach is to help you to relax and control the tension in your body and move your thoughts away from the worries that can dominate your thinking. It involves noticing and being mindful about your body and breathing and helps you let thoughts just be so you can move your mind to a calm controlled relaxed state.
It normally takes a few sessions to begin to learn the skills of experiencing this deep calm. To do this you will need to practice regularly – preferably twice a day. Try to view the session as a “prescription” to be taken in the morning and evening. Each session should not be too long – just 10 minutes or less – find a space where you can be on your own and not be interrupted by others. If this is difficult it is important to ask yourself whether you are just too busy to relax and if so, what changes you need to make in your life to make things better.
You may find as you begin to practice the Tension Control Training that your thoughts begin to wander as you listen to the session. It is quite normal to find it is hard to do this at first, but with practice and further sessions we hope you find it easier and easier to reach a state of calmness and improve your sleep. Over six to eight weeks many people find that they are slowly able to stop using the sound files as they find that they can move to a state of calm in everyday life. As with a good holiday, the benefits of this last far longer than just the time taken during the session of relaxation, and we hope you notice additional benefits throughout the day.
Stop The Vicious Cycle of Thinking
Life throws worries and challenges at us all the time. Someone may be unwell, you might lose a job, you may have to move house, arguments with friends and families; there are so many things that can cause us to feel down. Any of these problems can cause us to feel bad and these challenges sometimes aren’t satisfied with giving us the blues, but they can make us feel ill physically and we can start thinking we are useless and can’t be bothered doing anything. When life throws a problem at us we can start to get caught up in a vicious cycle.
The vicious cycle- the worse we feel, the less we do, the less we do the worse we feel, and round and round it goes when we are really feeling stuck in a rut and feeling low.
So, imagine you have been made redundant- how does this affect how we think about things? We may be feeling down, feeling like we’ve let people down. We might not have enough to pay the mortgage and all the things that are going to go wrong, and these worries build up in our minds. When things are going wrong, we don’t see life in balanced ways and we can focus on the upsetting things like ‘they don’t want me, I’ll never get another job’ I’m useless, no one likes me.’ All these thoughts can go round and round in our heads- these thoughts are called ‘altered thinking.’
What impact does this kind of thinking have on how we feel? If we have lost a job how might we be feeling? Depressed, worried, guilty or ashamed, angry or irritated, all understandable feelings. These are called ‘altered feelings.’
The circle is now starting to spin. How might we feel when this happens? When we are stressed and worried, we might start to feel physically ill; shaky, aching stomach, we might sweat, we might also find our appetite goes, we lose energy and our sex drive, catch more colds and coughs and generally feel a bit more run down. This is called ‘altered physical symptoms’.
Altered Physical Feelings
When we feel this bad mentally and physically, it affects what we do in our behaviours, we might not feel like getting up, put off paying bills, cleaning house, seeing friends. This is known as ‘altered behaviour.’
Altered behaviour completes the vicious cycle. Things get worse and worse from the altered thinking that the redundancy caused, and you are feeling low, lost your appetite, stopped doing things, and can’t be bothered going out anymore. Now that you have more time you are thinking more negatively and going further and further down.
The good news is you can spin the vicious cycle round in the other direction. By changing one thing in the cycle, you can stop it spinning and take control. Remember, you have control, so whatever life throws at you, you have the power to control if you know how and depending on how you react to it. Some people with the most challenging life circumstances seem to cope well; this shows you that it’s not what happens that matters it’s how you respond to the situation that matters.
For more information and to start spinning the circle the other way, Try ‘the cards that life deals you’ worksheet and the linked e book Understanding Feelings (why do I feel so Bad) and ‘Write all over your bathroom mirror’ to get started.
Being Kind to Yourself
It’s very easy to be tough on yourself and to let bad thoughts take over—we tend to do it a lot, much more than we realise- we are often kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Take a step back and consider how you look after yourself. When things seem difficult or hard, what’s the tone or how do you speak to yourself? Encouraging and warm or critical and pulling down?
What would it be like if you let yourself off the hook of your own self-judgement and critical inner thoughts?
Most people just want to be happy, healthy and at ease. We would want that for someone we cared for such as a loved child. How can you allow yourself to experience the same kindness right now?
Practice recognising and choosing not to listen to the inner critic. Realising that life and us as human beings are imperfect. Instead accepting you as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrating who you are and the journey you are on.
To help you do this, access free worksheets such as 10 things you can do to feel happier straight away and more here.
The phrase ‘wintering’ is what we do in preparation for the coming months, some of us may dread it after a nice long summer. So what do you do to help to get through?
Find joy in things you love and do these things! When you are experiencing something positive- do more of it! Whether it be a hobby, or time with a group of friends.
Social Connections – the pandemic has taught us how precious social connections are to us, make sure you see people on cosy dark nights and make plans to reach out to people who may be lonely themselves, the act of kind ness will make you feel rewarded too.
Practice Mindfulness. Always keep this question in your back pocket. What do I need right now? And be kind to yourself.
Sign up to our course today for free at www.llttf.com