We all have different versions of how COVID-19 has impacted our lives. I heard a quote recently that “we are not in the same boat, more like we are all in the same storm in little boats and are finding our own ways to move forward through the water”. For me this really resonated, as everyone I speak to, have very different ways of viewing this period in our lives.
There are large groups of people who have worked throughout, keeping us safe, fed and essentials delivered. Many are feeling burned out because they have worked so many hours. There are those who have learned to work from home, furloughed or supporting others i.e. homeschooling. Many have discovered new things in their lives. Some enjoy the new regime, others desperate to get back to their normal.
Throughout lockdown, one topic of conversation was the unusual glorious weather. So many people enjoyed being outdoors, walking, noticing nature and wildlife around them. And silence! In reflection, this will be something we may wish we could keep in our lives as we start to unlock. Questioning whether these newfound experiences can be incorporated moving forward, will be on many people’s minds.
I have learned a few new techniques during my NLP journey over the years, some that have been great and others not right for me. During lockdown I took time to explore things that could support us, especially in the area of self care and mental health. One area I was curious about was visualising things.
In early 2019 I had listened to a podcast and was trying to set goals for the year as we often do at New Year. The speaker, Tara Swart (The Source) had suggested creating a visual goal board. By seeing images related to a wish or a goal each day, the subconscious part of the brain focuses on the goal, helping you to achieve them. So I began to collect images that best described what I wanted to achieve by the end of 2019. I placed them on a large piece of card and positioned it somewhere I would see every day. I must be honest, I was sceptical, so much so, although I passed it every day, I began to forget it was there. It was only as we were heading into Christmas I began to think about new goals for 2020, I looked at the board and it’s images. Some were still just pictures I liked, however there was a theme and I had achieved some things. Maybe my subconscious had been working without me realising! It was not exactly as imagined, but definitely heading in the right direction. I set about adding new images for my new board during January 2020 curious on how this was working. Then COVID-19, many of my ideas were to travel more and work in more schools. Both stopped. The board felt redundant.
I heard Tara in another podcast this week, she had created her new board in January and like me realised a lot of goals would not happen due to COVID. She suggested a post lockdown board as a way of focussing on what you would like to happen or keep doing when things go back to “normal”. Maybe a place to travel to, favourite places to eat or pictures of the new daily walk. Even a set of images that made you smile or feel good. By having a positive set of images placed somewhere you can see it every day, can be a reminder of things that make you happy. This could be a great creative tool for children and young people too. It could be done digitally printing out and pasting on a card. Letting children think about the next twelve months positively and what they would like to enjoy, allows them to focus on their future.
Using a technique like a visual board, positively planning towards the future will help us feel we have a little control back in our lives. It also helps to rebalance the brain and reduce the stress that might be being felt.
Other techniques I explored are journaling. There are many different ways to do this, a bit like a diary that is written daily. It may be you list a set of questions you aim to answer each day ie: How was my day, What did I achieve, What was good about today. Another version is to write down anything that comes into your head about your day. The things you enjoyed, any worries or noting how you are feeling. Add to this three things that were good about the day. This can be as short or as lengthy as you wish. Setting a goal each week on what you want to achieve is a good way of you focusing on moving forward. Keeping the goals simple ensures you are more likely to achieve them, and therefore keeping you in a positive frame. A good example may be that; during lockdown you were enjoying a daily walk or riding a bike. When starting back to work finding time to do this may be harder, however by noting ahead in a journal may allow you to plan and find ways of incorporating it into a daily practice ie cycle to work or find a park to walk to to have your lunch.
Many of us have found new skills whilst in lockdown. Sharing this with others when returning to work or supporting those around you starting back, is a good way of continuing these new found skills. If you have found you are a great baker, share the produce with your friends or team, even share the recipes. If you have learned to paint or grow plants maybe create and share as a gift to a valued friend or colleague. This way you are more likely to continue with your new found interest.
As we move forward through the year, there will still be many challenges to overcome. Trying some of the techniques above may help to support mental health. Taking a few minutes each day to rebalance thoughts is helpful. Maybe sit with a tea in a quiet space. Listen to music or a walk in the park. Whatever helps to calm and be kind to ourselves.