Before you press play again

For many of us, COVID-19 has meant that parts of our lives have been put on “pause”.

Be it, social catch-ups with friends and family, working in our office, or taking our kids to their weekend game of sport. Unfortunately for others, there has been a sudden and brutal stop button pushed, particularly in certain areas of employment and study.

Both categories are challenging and there has been grief and loss felt quite profoundly in communities around the globe and of course locally.

As the restrictions are slowly being lifted in our state, we face more changes to our daily routines and an opening back up of our worlds.

The first thing that can be helpful to understand, is that our reactions are likely to be different.

There will be some who are champing at the bit, ready to spring back into more physical connections and broadening their environments.

At the other end of the spectrum, there'll be people who are quite comfortable and safe in the four walls of their home and content with their grocery shop as their only outing.

Then there are those who are somewhere in the middle. There is no right or wrong in our responses.

We all have our own personal circumstances, which includes our own unique vulnerabilities, strengths and just ways of being in the world.

We would not expect everyone we know to have the same physical fitness. If there was a 5-kilometre fun run for example, some of us might walk, some of us might jog and some of us might run. Therefore, we would not ask everyone to complete a 5-kilometre run the same way.

So we should not necessarily expect that we all have the same skills and abilities to cope with the mental load of COVID-19. We will all need different things and will find some aspects harder than others. This is all perfectly normal and understandable.

Mental health clinicians frequently talk about the benefits of going slowly.

What we mean by this is: slow yourself down enough so you are tuned in to how you are feeling. When we know how we feel, then we can also think about what we need to manage those feelings and to ultimately cope with more change.  

With my own recent return to work, I was reminded of these things.  I expected to be jumping for joy and race out the door.

However, come time to leave the house and break my current comfortable routine, my brain decided to try and rescue me from this by asking: “Is this the right time?”.

I then reminded myself of some handy tips:

  1. When things feel uncomfortable (change) it’s normal for our brains to find a reason to avoid them, thus eliminating the initial discomfort.
  2. Remind your brain of the facts, such as helpful public health messages.
  3. Discomfort is normal, but it doesn’t mean the action that I am taking is wrong.

So, before you press play again, remind yourself of the things above. Remember kindness to yourself and others is the key.
- Contributed by Caroline Thain, Occupational Therapist, headspace Launceston
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