I don’t know if it's just me or whether or not other people notice mood swings during this lockdown period. There we were just getting on with life and looking forward to the Summer, maybe trips we’d planned or to just enjoy getting out and about in warmer weather then, bang, lockdown! Life it appears is on hold, or is it?
I seem to have good days and not so good days, and there have been two particularly difficult days. So far, the good days have kept me going but what do I do on the not so good or difficult days?
Firstly, I try to notice what is happening for me. Do I have anxious thoughts and, if I do, what are they? Am I worried about catching the illness and being very poorly (or worse); am I concerned about the health of my family and friends and am I missing being able to see or give them a hug; am I missing doing the things I love and maybe grieving for the life I’ve taken for granted and don’t know when I can have it back?
The paragraph below examines the emotions we may be experiencing but the key, for me, is to recognise those emotions, acknowledge them, accept that they are there but then let them go. That may sound difficult, or maybe condescending but holding these emotions in, or not letting them out positively, can lead us into darker places. Avoid dwelling on negative thoughts or anxieties but notice and acknowledge them. Be kind to yourself, give yourself a hug.
As far as emotions are concerned grieving is a good place to start. The emotions we may experience at the moment are very much the same as in the grieving process i.e. anger, sadness, fear and guilt. Have you noticed any of these emotions surfacing more than usual in recent days and, if so, are any more prominent than others? I have been aware of sadness and fear and I notice I have been focussing a lot of anger towards people like the government but maybe it’s easier to look in that direction than my own shortcomings. I’ve also noticed some guilt, maybe thinking I’ve been complacent and guilty of being selfish. There is no guilt attached to experiencing these emotions or accepting that you are having difficulties. I’ve seen an article today from Alistair Campbell saying that the lockdown has unleashed his depression; he then describes how he has been dealing with it. He has a 10 point plan.
I often describe myself as a lucky person and I am aware that many people don’t have the same compensations as I have. That doesn’t mean I should take them for granted or that I can’t spiral into feeling low. I have to constantly remind myself of what I have going for me. I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country and have a garden which means I can get outside. Oh, I have a great partner too. To date I have had more than enough food and drink and I can enjoy films or series on the TV or Netflix, I can read, I can play music. I also try and limit the amount of news articles I read each day; they can become wearing. This goes for social media too. I can only say what has worked for me as opposed to telling others how to think or act. Make of it what you will.
In essence I acknowledge the difficult days and the emotions that go with them, I recognise what is still good in my life and aim to do something positive each day to remain productive. I also try to maintain some structure to my day, and I am trying new recipes or something like baking which I never normally do. I aim to keep connected to people I care about and try and avoid isolation. I’m also being thankful to be alive. I’ve never known a time in life where I truly think “I might not be here next month” and that’s a sobering thought.