Here in the UK the vaccine roll out is happening at speed, we have a roadmap leading us to apparent freedom, spring is here. So why do a lot of us still feel so low?
A Sense of Loss
A common theme throughout this past year is loss. Sadly many this year have lost loved ones, many have lost their jobs, and most of us have lost a sense of freedom.
But more than this, there has been a loss of connection, our normal hobbies, our little chats with a fellow passenger on the train platform, the banter with colleagues in the staff kitchen….
As the lockdown eases in England, we can enjoy seeing friends and family again, with limitations. But normality is not (yet) as we knew it.
So how to deal with loss? Well, the name for our response to loss is grief. And although grieving is usually associated with bereavement, the process of our emotions is similar with any loss. And we don’t expect grief to be over quickly. We know it’s a process that takes time.
Kübler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief, tells us that with any loss there’s a period of denial, then anger, followed by bargaining, depression and then finally acceptance. So it’s likely that, with any losses, you may go through a similar process.
Try writing down all the losses that the pandemic has caused for you. The big ones, and the ones that seem less significant. I’m pretty sure that, if you’re anything like me, you’ll realise just how much has been lost in the last 12 months. And the difficulty with these losses, is that a lot of them are ongoing. This just stalls the grieving process, and can lead to a sense of being low, or depressed.
We’re all in the same boat, aren’t we? Well not quite, more like we’re all in the same storm but in different boats. Some of us have have lost jobs, businesses, loved ones. Others have flourished in lockdown and enjoyed spending time with family in a bubble. Some will have felt trapped in difficult relationships at home, or stuck in a tiny flat for months, and others will have been enjoying the countryside and their large gardens.
We’ve all had different experiences of the same pandemic. But, crucially, so many of us are feeling the same way – low, unmotivated, anxious, fed up, sad, annoyed (the list goes on). And I think when everyone is going through the same feelings, it can feel like you can’t complain. “Others have it much worse than me”, or “I can’t let them know how low I feel, they’re feeling it just as much”. Or maybe when someone tries to talk us about their stress levels from working at home… “what have they got to complain about, at least they have a job!”
This type of thinking means we keep things to ourselves and don’t get to talk about it. Bottling things up like this often leads to more distress which is why it’s so important to recognise when you need help.
How to Help
It may be a bit of a buzz word lately but self-care is more important that ever. And, in the past year, we have lost a lot of our regular ways of caring for our self. In the UK right now the gyms, swimming pools, restaurants and shops are still closed. So our usual methods of dealing with the stress of everyday life are not available. A coffee with a friend or night out with may usually have allowed you to cope better with what life throws at you. And the chance to plan a holiday may ordinarily have kept you going through the colder months.
So, we need to think even more carefully about our self care and find creative ways to let loose. Maybe a new hobby that you can do from home, a new walking route, dusting off your bike and going for a ride, or just meeting friends for a socially distanced walk might be just the tonic.
Above all, have compassion for yourself. You’re grieving, for all the little things you’ve lost. Hopefully one day some of these may return but, until then, be kind and accept this may take time.
Check out my 5 self care activities that won’t cost you a Penny for some ideas.
Amy is a qualified counsellor working in Kent and online with adults and adolescents. Amy works with a range of issues and specialises in working with neurodivergent individuals and their families.
For more information, contact Amy here.