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Collectively, we are in a state of heightened anxiety and insecurity as we are facing such uncertainty amidst this global pandemic. We crave and seek out security in our lives as it allows us to anchor ourselves, it’s the way we are built. People are different in how much uncertainty they can handle, some even chase uncertainty in life. Uncertainty and impermanence are integral parts of human life, if we can learn to accept this then the rollercoaster of uncertainties we are facing at the moment can be less shocking and approached in a different way. In this blog post, I am looking at ideas for how we can all build our own self care toolkit to look after ourselves. The great thing about this is, you get to choose what goes in there and make it work for you.
Focusing on the present If we sense a difficult emotion or feeling coming up, our response may be to avoid this, deny it, change it in some way. This often does not work, as feelings need to be felt. Sit with the uncertainty and notice how it feels. Does it manifest physically? Do you notice changes in your breathing, feelings of tension? Maybe your mind starts racing – fast tracking to worst case scenarios. Focus on the present moment and focus on your breath. Try to stay in the present. The feelings will pass. Let go of the need for certainty and accept this is a part of life. There are many meditation & mindfulness videos and exercises available, lots of them are free. Having a look through and choosing one for you could be part of your self care toolkit.
Change up and challenge habits If you always take the same route when you go out for a walk, try swapping it round. Bring in some spontaneity by suggesting a phone call with a friend, initiate an online catch-up. Anything where you are taking initiative and bringing in some spontaneity can feel empowering and change up your routine.
Recognise everyday uncertainties: Uncertainty is weaved into the fabric of our everyday lives and when feeling anxious we often underestimate our ability to cope. Sometimes everyday uncertainties can be good things and they can often take us by surprise. Maybe we received a pay rise, a new job offer, a phone call from an old friend, a random act of kindness. None of these things would have been definite foreseen events, they represent uncertainty. We can also experience more negative uncertainties, the death of someone close, a sudden diagnosis, or redundancy for example. Think about how many uncertainties you have already coped with, how have you handled them? It might be helpful to write down any you are proud of as reminders of your strength and courage to face future challenges.
Rediscover an old hobby or learn a new hobby: It doesn’t have to cost much money, it could be planting some seeds in a windowsill box, getting creative with arts and crafts, making a collage, reading a good book… endless possibilities. You get to choose what feels good for you.
Become your own agent: Maybe you’ve lost your job. Feeling hopeless and uncertain about the economic uncertainty. You can take control over how much time you spend looking for jobs, learning new skills online, connecting with others and looking at voluntary work. Maybe you are very anxious about catching the virus, you can control how much time you spend cleaning and how you choose to respond to others when out and about. You can also choose to limit your social media intake and how often you watch the news. Keeping up to date with reputable facts can be important, but we can limit our exposure to the sensationalism and half truths which can appear on social media.
Movement Moving ourselves physically – stretching, walking, running and yoga for example are all great ways to release tension and lift mood. The body holds emotion and we can end up feeling tense from not moving much. Youtube has loads of free exercise and Yoga videos for anybody to access which you could incorporate into your routine. Note what works for you and don’t be afraid to try something new if it feels okay too.
Acknowledge and befriend your feelings It’s okay to feel low sometimes, to feel tired, demotivated, anxious. These feelings are understandable and rational responses to unprecedented events and are a part of being human. Be kind and patient with yourself, as the relationship you have with yourself is the most important one.
These are only ideas, you are your own expert.
You can develop other ideas for your self care toolkit so you always have something to draw upon when you need some support.