There’s a question hanging on the tip of a lot of tongues at the moment and it’s a good one to ask:
Is it OK to feel like this?
Even if you and your loved ones have been fortunate enough to remain financially stable and in good health, some impact of Covid-19 has been unavoidable. Like a non-discriminatory alien, it wormed its way into almost everything we could take for granted and changed it. You can’t do what you used to do – or at least, not in the same way. You can’t hug someone Hello or kiss them Goodbye. You can’t make plans in the same way or pop into a shop on the spur of the moment; your impulse is tempered by having to whip a clean face covering out of your pocket and check that you won’t pierce social distancing if you enter.
So why are some people embracing this enforced change when others feel like they’re going crazy? The answer is that some people simply respond better to change than others. And while we do our best to support each other, this experience, while communal in its approach, is different for us all. Every household is feeling the effect of these changes differently. And within every household, individuals are coping – or not – at varying degrees.
There is good reason for our government to express concern about mental health. These extraordinary times are good fodder for anxiety.
We make emotional transitions at different speeds. As a community, we need to understand and respect that. You might feel more confident about operating in a world of Covid-19 than your friend or neighbour. Each one’s progression to the evolving norm will be different. The challenges you face will not quite be the same as the household next door. ‘In this together’ doesn’t mean that we’ll all feel the same.
Going back to our question: Is it OK to feel like this?
The answer has to be: Yes and No.
Your feelings are valid. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or that you’re alone – there will be others, whether they express their thoughts on social media, in your socially distanced chat on the corner of the street, or only to themselves in the privacy of their own minds. There will be others who feel the same way as you do.
If you’re one who can carve opportunity from crisis, that is very much OK. There has been criticism at times of individuals who have managed to thrive during these tough months. What happened to celebrating success? Those who haven’t yet found opportunity could look at such examples as beacons of hope – if he can do it, maybe I can, too. Choosing to celebrate and admire the success of others puts us in a mindset of being ready to learn.
Equally, those who are fearful of venturing forward need acceptance. Handling challenge is personal. Each is born into a different version of the world, motivated and influenced accordingly. Compassion is a chance for personal growth. The opportunity to learn lies within every perspective that’s different to your own. Be willing to understand.
On the flip side, if how you feel is fearful or anxious, that’s not OK. Fear and anxiety stem from a sense of not having control. And while there is a lot you can’t control (Covid-19 or not), it’s worth remembering that you do have charge over how you manage yourself. And that’s good news. Because it means you can change anxiety into hope.
Rather than deny your feelings and have them show themselves in unhelpful ways – snapping at your loved ones, refusing to operate with self-care, feeding anxiety with the things that help you to stay low – learning how to embrace a different perspective will be the key to creating a sense of calm and inner strength. You might even create a silver lining of your own. So, if worry, stress or anxiety is developing, get some help. Book in with a life coach or a therapist or pay a visit to your doctor.
It’s OK to accept not being OK as a transitional phase of life.
But it’s not OK to make it your new norm.