As we enter our ninth week of lockdown measures in the UK we can be certain that most of us have experienced the full spectrum of emotions and questioned our ability to cope day-to-day.

For many our normal structure and routine has drastically changed. The way we work, our children’s education, the usual means by which we socially interact and  even our shopping habits have all been disrupted. This is extremely unsettling and therefore totally understandable that we will struggle to carry on as before.

How many of these behaviours and feelings can you relate to at the moment?:

  • A lack of energy and motivation
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Hours spent watching TV or on social media
  • Feeling low in mood and isolated
  • Disruption to sleep patterns
  • Feeling guilty about what you perceive as unproductive day
  • An overwhelming sense that others are coping better than you
  • Snacking and/or overeating
  • Copious list of tasks that never get started
  • Feeling anxious and stressed
  • Annoyed and frustrated with yourself for experiencing extremes of emotions as others may be worse off than us.

Although everyone’s encounter of this crisis will be different it is quite normal for us to experience some, if not all of these during the pandemic. As a result we are left feeling a sense of GUILT and the false belief that we are not managing well.

We may feel overwhelmed with suggestions of how to fill up our days, get creative, be productive and advice on the best approaches to home schooling. These can be useful but over exposure increases expectations we put on ourselves to function effectively during this exceptionally uncertain time. Sometimes, making us feel like we’ve failed before we’ve even started. All the while compounding our skewed view that we SHOULD be coping better.

As a consequence of Covid-19 we are now in a period of adjustment to a “new normal” where we are balancing our emotional response with the pragmatics of this unchartered territory. 

Here are some tips to help minimise those GUILT TRIPS:-

  • Good days, bad days – Levels of productivity and how you feel day-to-day will vary. On some days accept that just getting through the day is enough. 
  • Inner voice – Be aware of that harsh, judgmental self-critic that is finding fault in what you do. Consider what you might say to a good friend who is having a hard time and try saying that to yourself.
  • Permission to feel the way you do – We may feel guilty about feeling unmotivated or sad because we believe we SHOULDN’T when there are others worse off than us. But it is kinder to yourself to accept how you are feeling at that moment in time.
  • Limit your access to social media – Remember that the snapshot we see of other people’s lives on social media may reinforce our belief that “everyone is coping better than me”. Those people will have challenging times too.
  • Keep perspective – We are living in exceptional circumstances trying to understand the right way “to be”. Having difficulty functioning right now is not a reflection of how you will behave once the crisis has ended.
  • Be kind to yourself – practice self-compassion by easing the pressure you may put on yourself. Prioritise YOU at times.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (18th-24th May) and the focus is on KINDNESS. We are encouraged to not only continue our efforts to be compassionate to others during this difficult time but are also reminded of the importance of taking care of our own well-being and mental health. So this week be gentle and considerate to yourself AND remember you did the best you could today.