Covid-19 and lockdown are both emotional subjects for a lot of people. I am noticing that there are many emotional responses as individuals, families, businesses and communities come to terms with the impact this pandemic is having on all our lives. This varied emotional response is completely normal, natural and healthy. And you should expect your emotional response to change over time as circumstances change.
Expressing your emotional response
When people take the time to speak about what is happening for them emotionally right now, the emotional charge decreases. This alone can make it easier to manage. Speaking about your concerns, fears and worries can help to reduce the stress, anxiety and fear you might be feeling. Holding it in and bottling it up only exacerbates the problem. As I said, your concerns for loved ones, finances, health, uncertainty about work, isolation, grief and loss are normal and natural emotions to have at this time.
They do not mean you are not coping. And they do not mean there is anything wrong. Any situation in life that leaves you with uncertainty, doubt, fear and confusion, you will have an emotional response. But, if you do not find a way to express that emotion in SOME way, it can have an on-going negative impact on your well-being.** Which can affect your resilience and your ability to manage the challenges you face- and that includes lockdown and Covid-19.
For many, the normal structures and habits you have in place to manage your emotional and mental well-being are often out of reach. Speaking with family and friends over the telephone or on Zoom is not the same as being with them in the room. And there is no substitute for a real hug or the comforting touch of a loved one. The social joys of getting together for a drink at the pub, a coffee in town or a meal out are currently not possible.
How are you managing your emotional response?
Our minds and bodies, in response, begin to become more on edge, stressed, tense and anxious as the restrictions continue and show no signs of abating. Which is as it should be, as the global population does what it must to contain the spread of the virus and together, we look after the health of everyone on the planet.
Without your typical resources available, perhaps it is time to explore new resources that can help support you? It seems that these are some of the areas where people are struggling:
- Reduced exercise and movement mean that muscles are getting tight. Tension also comes from holding the emotional tension of stress, anxiety and worry
- Lack of touch and the guardedness of social distancing creates its own anxiety that leads to more tension
- Unfamiliar feelings and sensations in reaction to these unprecedented times which are challenging to express. Such as lack of freedom, health concerns, uncertainty, more free time, overwhelm, boredom, job and financial security, isolation etc.
Here are some opportunities that I am involved in that might help to calm your anxiety, support your connection to others and share in safe and confidential spaces:
Embodiment Circles Online:
Since the beginning of lockdown, I have been involved with Online Embodiment Circles. Very quickly it has blossomed into a global community online, with over 80 one-hour sessions every week. Most circles are in English, but there are some in other languages. Circles were created to support well-being, learning and connection. They are practical and accessible, with three sections to them. The first is a light, non-athletic movement session (accessible yoga or dance for example). The second, a secular, body-based meditation. And lastly an opportunity for sharing.
In fact, this third section is perhaps the most effective and powerful part of the hour. People take the opportunity, if they want it, to share a little about how they are fairing right now. Every circle addresses the three challenges I mentioned above. So, if you’d like to be with others in a positive virtual environment, reduce your stress, and move a little to support your health, then join in. Groups use Zoom and are free of charge. You can find out more on the Embodiment Circle Online website.
Processing on the Run
I have been an active volunteer of the Samaritans for over two years. And now, there are also a number of organisations I am involved with on a charitable basis, including Project 5 for NHS staff and Spotlight, offering coaching for actors, give the people in these professions, the opportunity to process their emotional state on the run. This helps them remain more resilient as well as be more present and productive at work. It also means they can transition to and from home life more easily. And therefore be more present to partners and children.
The benefit of speaking about how you feel
Both in the Samaritans and coaching, I see the benefit to people of expressing the emotions they feel in the moment. Before they have the opportunity to express them, they are often agitated. They also find it hard to concentrate and focus, feel withdrawn or find it hard to connect with others. If they have been carrying that emotion for a while, it can impact their resilience to cope with life’s challenges. It also impacts their creativity and productivity at work, presence at home and their ability to focus on solutions.
From personal experience as well, that inability to express emotions negatively impacts your ability to create, sustain and build relationships. All of which are essential for thriving through these challenging times as well as in life in general. I have noticed my improved ability to express how I am feeling makes me a better father, partner, person in business, family member and friend. And life is just more fun, and rich, with the freedom to express how I feel. When life is more challenging, sharing how I feel means those challenging times are easier to cope with.
A limited, free coaching offer
Therefore, I am offering individuals a single free session of life coaching to provide a safe space to explore and express their emotions or to work out how best to move forward through the pandemic. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, please contact me here: email@example.com
Stress Management for Healthcare Professionals
If you are a healthcare professional, or know someone in the healthcare profession, Covid Calm is an online session, sharing tools to manage stress for medical staff under pressure. This is a free initiative, run by volunteers who are very experienced stress management facilitators. Each 30- minute session takes participants through the A.S.S.E.T. toolbox, which includes:
- ABC Equilibrium Technique
- Stretching, shaking and tapping
- Sitting Mindfulness
- Empathic sharing
- Thankfulness and gratitude
These are all evidence-based techniques shown to resource people to more effectively manage stress. You can find out more at the Covid Calm website and in this LinkedIn article, which also highlights some of the research-based evidence out there to support the effectiveness of these techniques.
Over to You
So, these are some of the things I am offering and involved with that can support people in sharing their emotions. Allowing them to manage their stress more effectively and develop greater resilience.
Please share these initiatives where you can.
And if you would like to support Project 5 (which offers coaching and tiered psychological support for NHS staff), you can donate here.
** Speaking about how you feel may not be your bag. Although it is useful to be able to express your feelings in words so that you can communicate with the people you share your life with. Having said that, painting, drawing, dance, movement, music and poetry can all be ways in which you might prefer to process your emotions. Having done that clarifying work, it can be easier to talk about what is going on for you.