Moving forward and finding a new approach to life
The Covid 19 pandemic has offered many opportunities and threats in peoples’ lives. Many have re-evaluated what is important. There have been losses from the loss of normality and routine to job loss or loss of loved ones. These are all traumas that occurred at a time that there was collective global trauma and you may not have had space and time to process these. Perhaps returning to work, old routines that were deemed ‘normal’ has offered some perspective on how things were and how you may now want things to be?
All losses are significant to the person experiencing the loss and how we cope with loss will rely on our coping mechanisms. If we consider the statement that ‘everyone’s perception is their reality’ and notice what our perception of life events are and how these perceptions may inform how we may cope. For example, If we have a tendency to ignore our upsetting experiences we may not yet have come to a realisation of what impact the event had on us. Conversely, if we catastrophise potential events in our mind and think of all the worst-case scenarios, we may limit our coping skills. We all want and need to connect with ourselves and others to understand our relationships.
If you are reading this article you are most likely reflecting on your life, perhaps reflecting on what old behaviours you may like to return to and perhaps some new behaviours you may wish to adopt. Psychotherapy supports us to understand why we behave in certain ways, in a supportive environment that guides us to move forward. The past may be impacting on the present but thankfully the past does not need to dictate your future. If you feel ‘stuck’ or find it hard to move forward perhaps some of the following methods may support your personal growth:
-Reconnect with friends and family. You may want to find new ways to connect with loved ones or it may be time to consider an activity to make new connections. Researchers have found that there are significant benefits that arise from regularly connecting with others. Neuroscience shows that relational connections help improve our quality of life, reduce stress, boost mental well-being, and significantly decrease loneliness. Our feelings should be listened to and guide us on what we need to do next. Think about something you may want to achieve this month to work on your connectedness with yourself and others? Perhaps set some short term and long-term goals and write them down.
-Routine is important to have a healthy balance in life. You may now find that you are working from home, hybrid working or working in a different way that may not have been your choice. Working from home can offer opportunities to claim back more time for yourself. You may now be able to practice journaling, mindfulness, meditation on your break time. It may be about creating a space in your home or garden where you have a calming environment to offer self-compassion and a reflective space. A starting point may be ensuring you take your breaks and start to notice what you do in that time. The next step may be thinking of ways in which the breaks or reduced travel time saves you time and how this time may be spent to support you best.
-Exercise releases endorphins and supports a healthy mind. Consider resuming regular exercise or if exercise is not something you tried much in the past maybe it is time to plan exercise into your new norm. Consider your personality and lifestyle. You may be too busy and need alone time with grounding exercises or you may seek the company of others? Find something that you enjoy doing and create time to give back to yourself by nurturing these interests.
-Positive self-talk: Finding ways to move forward with a gentle, non- judgmental and self-care approach will work best for you. When we put pressure on ourselves it often negatively impacts on the behaviours we may be trying to return to or change. If you find your self-talk to be self-critical it often helps to think of a close friend and think of what advice you would give a close friend in the same situation. Most likely the criticism will be less and the empathy will be greater. Now do the same for yourself! Look out for self-talk that include ‘should’ (I should be better, fitter, have more friends etc) or comparisons to others as these are examples of negative self-talk that will not serve you well.
If all of the above feels overwhelming and too hard to tackle alone perhaps psychotherapy may help you to unpack these struggles in a nurturing environment. Niamh Lambe supports individuals to work through stresses and emotional upset from a strengths-based perspective to find a greater life balance.