These are times of apprehension, worry and uncertainty; each time that we think that there is ray of hope ahead, there seems to be a new COVID variant, and so ensues more panic. Many of us are dealing with bleak circumstances such as redundancy, anxiety, depression, lockdown fatigue, conflict in relationships and are balancing jobs with home-schooling.
So, how can we find comfort and optimism in the middle of a global pandemic? How do we become resilient to life’s inevitable stresses? Everyone’s level of resilience is different, but some of us are just not coping. Crisis is part of life, although rarely on the scale that we are going through.
My Parkinson’s journey has taught me how to live in uncertain times and that I cannot control everything that happens to me. I often feel powerless and full of despair, but I know that there are things that I can do to help me to find the willpower to carry on rather than being totally derailed by my circumstances. There are strategies that I use to help lift my mood and gain some control…
We can start by practicing acceptance; this is not what we would choose but we are living through exceptionally challenging times that are mostly out of our control, and that needs to be acknowledged. Try to embrace rather than run away from difficult emotions and become comfortable being uncomfortable; suffering is an inevitable part of life and facing up to this makes life a lot easier. It is human nature to side-step difficulties, but this will not help us to get through these problems. Let go of the desire for things to be different and just accept them as they are.
I find that keeping things in perspective always helps; we are going through tough times but there are so many people who are a lot worse off. Some people have lost family members, others are suffering the terrible consequences of Long-Covid, many are on ventilators fighting for each breath, cancer treatments have been delayed, there are cancelled weddings and so many people face the threat of losing their homes and jobs. When I think about the misfortunes of others, I find it easier to deal with my own. Whilst I still have the occasional whine about the state of my lockdown hair and nails, I hope to never again take for granted the fact that I have a job, a home, and healthy loved ones.
Try to remember that it’s okay to be sad and grumpy, let it all out. Nobody is happy all of the time, and we need tough times to help us appreciate the good ones. Sit with sadness, acknowledge it, and don’t run away from it. In doing so we develop our coping skills and resilience, rather than crumbling at every disappointment that we face in life.
Try to do things that bring you happiness. Schedule some time for yourself each day. Talk to friends and family; they may be feeling the same way and can reassure you that your feelings are normal, you may even be able to help them too. Focus on gratitude each and every day; this can stop you dwelling on your problems and help you to leave negativity behind. Spend time in nature, move and most importantly laugh!
Finally, never stop believing in miracles! This awful period of time will not last forever, we need to weather the storm and look forward to brighter days ahead. Remind yourself of the things that you will do when this is all over; meals in restaurants, trips to the cinema, calling in for a cuppa, getting dressed up, going to the gym and most importantly, hugs! Those days are coming…