This week is a lot, with lockdown restrictions in the UK and the election in the US it can feel overwhelming to manage and cope with.
In this episode we look at:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 70 When the world and life feel like a LOT
Hello and welcome to episode 70
Well, this week is a lot, right? The UK is in various states of lockdown. Here in Wales we’re in our second and final week of lockdown, northern Ireland is midway, Scotland has five tiers of restrictions and England is about to enter a month-long lockdown. And as I record this I don’t know the outcome of the US election! So, yes, it’s a lot.
Right now you might be wondering how you’re going to get through it, how are you going to cope with not being able to see your family and friends, perhaps your business has to close or you’re working at home with a houseful. Maybe you’re looking forward and thinking about how uncertain everything is, you don’t know what Christmas will be like, how you’ll deal with winter and the thought of it all is overwhelming. I mean, really, how much more of this can you take?
It’s okay that it all feels like a lot, like too much, like it’s going to make your head explode because this is an extraordinary time we’re living in. And you’re not the only one feeling like this, I guarantee that there are many, many people feeling all the feelings you are.
There’s a quote that was shared a lot in the Spring and it’s still just as valid – we’re all in the same storm but we’re not in the same boat. Yes, we’re all living through this global pandemic, and while no-one is alone in their fears and feelings, each of us is having our own experience with our own set of challenges. So looking at how other people seem to be doing just fine, they’re coping and taking it all in their stride, and using that to criticise yourself isn’t helping you. The word ‘seem’ is a clue here, you don’t actually know what’s going on inside a person whatever they show on the outside. And yes, some people will be weathering this storm differently because they don’t have the challenges, the responsibilities, the complications that others do.
Whatever you’re finding difficult is valid, however you’re feeling is allowed and telling yourself you shouldn’t feel this way or you should be able to cope won’t help. This is a time, and actually, this applies all the time with or without a pandemic to cope with, for you to be as kind and compassionate to yourself as you are to other people. Give yourself a break, acknowledge that 2020 is a crazy, stressy, upside down year and it’s okay that you’re finding it tough.
You may be thinking you can’t do another lockdown, you can’t bear all the uncertainty, not knowing what’s going to happen. Here’s the thing, you’ve got the proof that you can get through a lockdown because you’ve done it already. That doesn’t take away how hard it might have been, but you did do it. The uncertainty and unknown, the lack of control is what I know so many found incredibly stressful back in the Spring. The uncertainty is still there, we don’t know how the winter is going to play out but what we do know is that we’ve been living with this level of uncertainty for months now. On one hand that’s a level of stress you’ve been living with for a long time. And on the other hand it’s more evidence that you can handle it. You’ve been adjusting, coming up with new and different ways of going about your life, you’ve been adapting and pivoting, finding flexibility in yourself that you didn’t know you had. Take solace and be encouraged in the evidence you have from the past several months of your strength and resilience.
Now this doesn’t mean that you have to soldier on alone, that you should be able to cope because you’ve been just about keeping it together this year, not at all. What helped you back in March, what’s been helping you in the months since, and what else could help you is what we need to focus on. So think about what’s been really supportive to you this year. Is it getting outside for a walk every day, whatever the weather? Is it having regular video calls with your best friend? Is it having a few minutes’ peace and quiet to yourself each day? Is it checking on your neighbours and doing some shopping for them? Is it making up quizzes to entertain your nieces and nephews? Is it pouring out your head and heart into the pages of your journal? Is it having a kitchen disco while you make dinner? Is it spending less time on social media?
Think about what you’ve learned from the past eight months or so, what has helped you, what you want to let go of because it really doesn’t help you, who’s been supportive. What do you want to make a priority? And what do you want to do differently? What do you know hasn’t been serving you? It could be the messages you tell yourself, it could be the people you’ve been speaking with or the things you thought you should be doing.
This period of the pandemic is going to be different to last time because we’re in a different time of year. Here in the northern hemisphere we’re going into Winter and that’s a time where we can naturally have less energy, there can be an urge to retreat and withdraw. At the start of the pandemic we were moving into Spring and there may have been a feeling of needing or wanting to do lots. To take up running, master sourdough baking, do all the quizzes on Zoom calls. This time around things can be different. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and listen to what your brain and body needs. While you can learn from what worked for you in the early months and take from it what was helpful, you don’t have to do it the same way again.
What lifted your spirits during those early months and what’s been making you laugh recently? What gives you joy? What puts a great big beaming smile on your face? What helps us to get through challenges and difficult periods in our lives is to not just focus on getting through it but to also find moments of joy. To allow ourselves the little delights in life, whatever that looks like. We need moments of relief, we need spaces in our day to take a break from the difficulty and to lighten our hearts with whatever it is that gives us respite. Moments of laughter, or silliness, of amazement – these are vital in helping us to cope with the stress we’re facing.
This has been a difficult year for so many of us in many ways and it can feel like you’re not allowed to have a good day. You shouldn’t feel excited or light-hearted or playful or simply happy when there is such pain and suffering in the world. But you are allowed because you denying yourself the good feelings doesn’t change the reality of someone else’s situation and it’s just as harmful as denying feelings of hurt, fear and anger that you may have. This is why it’s so good to have Strictly Come Dancing back on our TVs because we need the relief and respite that the light and joy and sparkle gives us. And yes, that does make two episodes in a row that I’ve mentioned Strictly but that’s because I love it.
The episode I recorded back in March, a week before the first lockdown in the UK, is still pretty valid all these months later so rather than repeat myself here why don’t you go find episode 62 and have another listen.
I’m also working on something new that’s going to help you to feel calm, in control and confident you can cope so if you want to know more about it and when it’s ready the best thing is to be on my email list. You can join it at gabrielletreanor.com/joinme, I’ll put a link in the show notes and there’s also a link in my Instagram bio where I’m @gabrielletreanor. I send out an email about once a week with more on how you can overcome your overwhelm and feel calmer, and I share other things I think you might find interesting like what I’m reading or listening to. Plus you also get my free overcome your overwhelm guide when you sign up.
And if you want to get in touch directly with me you can email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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