More news for Well-being
I don’t know about you, but lockdown this time feels different. Last time everything was 'unprecedented' and uncertain. Now, one and a half years down the track, we know more about the virus, have a vaccine, and can see other countries finding a way forward. We have also experienced how online learning works; it’s easier to take perspective.
That doesn’t mean we don’t feel uncertainty, disappointment, and weariness. The spread of COVID-19 is an event we had not planned for, it has irrevocably altered the way we live and we are still unsure of its impact.
I’m a big fan of the Mental Health Foundation All Right? Campaign. Their latest project, Getting Through Together, provides some simple well-being tips that will serve us well while we navigate life not normal. So, today, I’ve decided to focus on a few.
It’s important to be kind to yourself and others. In challenging times, we will navigate a variety of emotions and at our own pace. Lockdown will impact people in different ways and to differing degrees. Therefore, we shouldn’t compare our responses to others: some people are better at dealing with uncertainties and can tolerate unpredictability; others are in more vulnerable positions than we are.
Kindness is contagious, and this current situation is an opportunity to contribute to the collective. We need to hold out a hand to our families and our community to get through this together. Small gestures like giving a compliment, a smile or sending a check-in text make a difference. How can you give to others? How are you reaching out?
It’s a fact of life that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and psychological well-being. Getting out for a brisk walk or run will help you sleep, brighten your mood, boost energy, and sharpen your mental functioning. Research says that the mood benefits of 20 minutes of exercise can last for 12 hours.
It sounds like a straightforward piece of advice but check-in with your emotions and notice the things (and people) that make you feel good in the moment. We need to deliberately seek out and savour the stuff that lifts us. With wisdom and experience, we learn that the simple things often matter most: Birdsong, music, and clean sheets on a Sunday night. Research by Barbara Fredrickson tells us that we should cultivate positive emotions to help us build resilience and broaden our perspective.
It is easy to keep running on adrenaline responding to the latest ‘ping’ on the computer in this situation. Naturally, people want to focus on controlling the aspects of life they can but maintaining balance is key. We need to let go of perfection, put up boundaries and balance busyness with space for rest and recovery to be our best. Relaxing and tapping into our ‘default’ brain allows us to replenish our attention and recharge. Reading a book, sitting in the sun, or doing absolutely nothing but breathing is just the trick. Chris Hipkin’s advice in the COVID-19 announcement this week provided us all with light relief. Sometimes the antidote to everything is to transcend with humour; laughter is the best medicine.
How do you relax? Who makes you laugh?
We Cantabrians know what it is like to experience external threats. Consider the strategies and perspectives you have gained in the past when navigating adversity. What has worked? What knowledge have you gained about yourself through other experiences? Again, it is about giving yourself credit and trusting your (and our collective) ability to bounce forward. We are resilient.
Uncertainty is part of life. This too will pass, and things will get better. Challenging times force us to slow down and think about what matters most in our lives. Look after each other.
Kerry Larby, Head of Well-being and Positive Education
Friday 27 August 2021
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