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Social distancing, Omicron, N95 masks – a few years ago we had never thought of these terms, now they have become defining features of our lives. There is no doubt we are living through a unique time in history.
With prolonged uncertainty, we feel mixed emotions and respond to situations and events differently depending on our own views and experiences. In this short blog post I wanted to provide some reminders about how we can reduce the impact of stress and fatigue in the weeks to come.
We live busy lives where there are multiple demands on our time and energy. The Mental Health Foundation emphasises the importance of taking time to refuel our bodies so we can manage the current situation. It is all about balance and prioritising our own self-care. Exercising regularly, eating nutritious food, connecting with friends, spending time in nature and doing activities that bring you joy are all ways to recharge yourself.
St Andrew’s College model for well-being, PERMA-V provides insight into aspects of our well-being that we could be focusing on.
How do you recharge your energy?
During this time, it is important that we check in with how we think, feel, and react. Well-being depends on our self-awareness.
It is normal to feel uncomfortable emotions. Stress is our bodies response to help us prepare for challenges. If we are tuned into the triggers that impact our stress levels, then we can identify what boundaries or support we need in the future. Triggers could be related to an unhealthy thinking pattern, disagreeing with others’ perspectives, or could be about choosing to digest information that is not helpful.
Dr Lucy Hone offers a useful question to help us build resilience: Is the way you’re thinking or the way you are acting helping or harming you in your quest to get through adversity?
Mask fatigue means it has never been more important for us to ‘switch on’ our relaxation response. Biochemist, Dr Libby Weaver, reminds us that nothing lowers stress hormones and changes our emotions faster than diaphragmatic breathing. Taking time out to have 20 deep breaths three times a day makes a difference and signals to the cells in our bodies that we are safe. The Mental Health Foundation offers some useful resources about relaxation and breathing here.
How do you switch on your relaxation response?
The last two years have been challenging and have impacted people in different ways. Although we still have some hurdles to jump and life has irrevocably changed, there is evidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Hope is the virtue we need to cultivate moving forward; it’s the antidote to fear. If we are present, we can see hope is all around us. Personally, I feel inspired by how our young people continue to cope with the pandemic. They have shown us they can manage uncertainty, compromise, take perspective, and stay optimistic. You can read more about hope here.
What are you looking forward to? What are you grateful for?
Kerry Larby Head of Well-being and Positive Education
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