It seems like such a long time ago that the pandemic first hit and as we move into a New Year in yet another lockdown, it's hard not to feel fatigued and stressed. The idea of going through it all again, the working from home, not seeing family and friends, homeschooling - and this time also battling the darker evenings and colder weather - can make the most optimistic person question their positive outlook.
Naturally, feelings of trepidation, anxiety and even anger will surface and even overwhelm, but there are things we can do to understand and improve these negative feelings and increase our own wellbeing and positive outlook.
Firstly acknowledge your feelings and own them. You are not a bad person to feel angry and upset about your life being restricted, it's natural to feel this way so do not also add guilt to the mix. Don’t battle to get rid of your unwanted feelings as this can be emotionally exhausting; try to make room for them instead, acknowledge how you feel and work through it.
Live in the Moment
We cannot control things that happen outside of us. We can only control how we manage our own response to situations. Try to live in the moment and learn to embrace moments of quiet solitude. Write three things you are grateful for each day and practise mindfulness each day. Take the time to stop and listen to yourself and your own body, focus on the here and now to reduce worry and help create a more positive outlook.
Make Positive Plans
Ensure you plan something to look forward to, whether that's a zoom quiz with family, taking the dog for a walk somewhere nice or exercising with a friend. Try to focus on what you can do and make the most of it. It may seem obvious but putting in place things to look forward to gives us a sense of purpose, keeps us entertained at the time and helps keep our mind off the negative.
If a wave of anxiety hits you try a grounding exercise to bring you back to the present moment. There are many mindful exercises in our cans to help with this, whether that's a breathing exercise, trying to name five things you can hear, see and smell, closing your eyes and imagining a happy place or listening to a calming piece of music. Find the exercise that works for you.
Look after yourself
Now is not the time to skimp on self-care. Don’t become too busy worrying about others or the outside world that you neglect yourself. Eat healthy food but also treat yourself to something that makes you happy. Keep hydrated, get out and exercise and give yourself the time to do something you love each day. All these things will help improve your sense of well-being. Exercise in particular, increase the endorphins in the body and is scientifically proven to lift your mood.
Be Kind to Yourself
We’ve all navigated the lockdowns as best we can and faced our own challenges over the last year. Give yourself credit for what you have achieved so far. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself moving forward; take time out to 'just be'. Don’t overload on work or chores and remember to always ask for support from others when you need it.