Professional & Personal Coach
365 days later – Finding a way to feel
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable was my theme of 2020. As we all adjusted to the pandemic travel restrictions became normal. Being 11,000 miles from home, I had to give myself permission to process grief around not being able to see my much-loved family & friends without guilt. Finding clarity around what I was feeling gave me a framework to reference & a simple 3 step exercise I share below, enabled me to place mindfulness, empathy & self-compassion as a priority.
This week marks 365 days since the COVID fears were becoming reality around the globe.
Revisiting journal entries made for good reflection around how far we moved, & so fast. How essential kindness and compassion became.
⇒ Restrictions, border closures, limited travel moved through to full-on lockdown.
⇒ Headlines became focused on loo paper & scarcity.
⇒ News cycles shifted minute by minute to the next informing of us our actions in the wake of the pandemic.
⇒ Flights, travel itineraries, dream once in a lifetime trips cancelled.
⇒ Don’t touch your face – stop panic buying.
⇒ Wash hands, wash hands and wash them again – those diagrams from preschool bathrooms were appearing in every facility educating us how to wash our hands. That effective 20-second rule.
⇒ Social distancing integrated into our daily language.
⇒ Hand sanitiser – the latest must-have accessory.
⇒ Advice & theories were spewing from all directions.
⇒ Inconsistencies and polar opposite approaches as leaders around the globe scrambled to design their plan whilst trying to keep abreast of the rapid change of information.
We had to change & rapidly find new ways of being :
⇒ WFH & all the implications of the required tech setups to connect online.
⇒ Families and house shares under the same roof – day in – day out.
⇒ Home School / Uni students back from campus.
⇒ Financial implications as the business’s adapted, innovated, re-engineered or widened the lane.
⇒ Meeting in person cancelled & hospitality ventures collapsed.
⇒”Let’s Zoom” rolled off the tongue like “let’s grab a coffee” used to.
⇒ Advice for our wellbeing was to Keep active – keep connected – keep communication – keep sharing.
‘Head mess’ material at times – and it got worst for millions.
What was NOT fact then – which IS now
Confirmed cases – 117 MILLION
Covid Deaths – 2.6 MILLION
(As at 8/3/21 – Vaccine doses now administered – 270 MILLION – an impressive statistic – this time last year there was no vaccine)
Consistent & Relentless
A year of ongoing change, research & transition.
Managing fear and uncertainty became exhausting. Being always on & permanently tired is normal, a new condition of Zoom burnout from screen time. The grief of what has been lost. The lack of human in-person connection created more anxiety & stress levels heightened.
Being mindful of our own and others mental well-being continues to be of paramount importance at home, work and play.
Go hard – Go early
An NZ perspective. Observing the global trends were led into the pandemic with – “We must go hard, and go early, and do everything we can to protect New Zealanders’ health” —Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, March 14, 2020 – By the 21st Borders were closed & have remained so since. Strength in leadership & consistent messaging, followed by the June announcement of Zero community cases for 24 days catapulted the PM into the global limelight again.
#truthbomb – At that time, one question that I found tough to navigate.
How am I supposed to be feeling right now?
In January 2020 with the first whisper of the virus, my initial thoughts & concerns went to the people of Wuhan. Anxiety levels skyrocketed around my loved ones & their families getting sick – and they did. Ageing relatives and those with underlying health conditions fueled my concerns.
Feeling for Friends and Family
My nearest & dearest friend was at the forefront of providing ITU beds for London & was knocked down with Covid for 3 weeks – lost colleagues and peers – her words still ring through my head – “this is bad matie – tell those you love everything you need to”
My siblings in the UK had Covid. One sister runs residential homes and was maxed out/burnt out facilitating new procedures to keep her residents protected, our family & friends who are health workers were buckling under the pressure of saving lives. Family, friends & clients based around the globe shareed their perspectives – UK, Japan, DOHA, Australia USA, Portugal, France, KL – all dealing with their unique circumstances and feeling fear and uncertainty.
We became addicted to news feeds on the latest tragic realities.
Over time we had to wean ourselves off them, to focus on our own coping strategies.
I took a moment to consider the state of my own physical health and that of our family. The priority became the daily routines of keeping us all safe and in check doing what we could to be one of the team of 5 million.
Loneliness in the elderly is a real issue – we adopted Grannies who lived alone and safely did their shopping lists each week. We wanted to help the vulnerable in our community – a tiny part of getting food & necessities to them safely. A humbling experience to be reminded that many live lonely lives without family support nearby.
The reality of thoughts & feelings.
As we adjusted to what became our new norm – my thoughts moved to deal with ongoing uncertainty and dare I admit, my thoughts came to “I guess my trip home to the UK won’t be happening this year?” …Doh…many moments focusing on my own feelings and processing what that all looked like.
Even when I attempted to play strong – some days were such BS.
Amidst those adjustments – it did not take long before clients started to share that they were, & continue to have similar thoughts and feelings.
It’s perfectly ok to feel more than ONE thing
✅ sadness ✅ personal disappointment
✅ scared ✅ vulnerable ✅ global empathy
✅ guilt ✅ happiness
✅ compassion ✅ gratitude
& more, ALL at the SAME time.
⇒⇒⇒Fast Forward⇒⇒⇒12 months.
Evolved yes – yet with a consistent strand.
A regular topic of conversation is how restricted our clients feel around not being able to travel.
As someone who adores exploration (physical places and of the mind – I learnt in my 20’s that I was constantly searching for views to take my breath away) I have felt the restriction. Momentarily – yet, my ‘real’.
Currently living in a country 11,000 miles away from my home, the last 14 months sure have challenged me. How I miss the in-person time with beloved family & friends + the adventures that we share as part of the ability to travel & experience different cultures to shared sunsets. A year ago, who would have thought ZOOM would be a lifesaver for our human connection?
Feeling all the feels
Depending on where our clients are in their lives, we have come across a myriad of emotions: ranging from sad – scared – restricted – gutted – frustrated – mad – claustrophobic – trapped – stuffed, To anger – unfairness & even rage (in some cases)
I continue to feel for all our health & front line workers, the global economy, families who grieve lost loved ones & peers, relationship pressures, financial crisis, loss of roles & continual transition, and the impact on our physical & mental wellbeing.
Sadness, Guilt and Shame
How guilty & indulgent I felt that I even gave a missed flight or trip home a thought when millions around the globe have died & have been seriously ill.
More layers added as NZ had the luxury of ZERO community cases & has been deemed as a parallel universe with its relative freedom.
How could I continue to update friends & family on activities which represented summer weather freedom, domestic travel, activities, connection to an active lifestyle? …. at a time when they had been suffocated by restrictions, festive lockdown over Christmas, long winter days & ongoing separation from loved ones?
During this year I have fluctuated between feeling immense sadness, guilt & shame. At times finding myself tearful over morning coffees & dog walks – time to take me aside for a BIG conversation and a journaling session.
(That joy & privilege of being able to use the resource tank on me!)
Get a grip girl – 2020/1 has been a really scary, uncertain situation, and it’s human to experience ALL the feelings about it.
Social Responsibility & Feeling Gutted
The reality is, I could get on a flight tomorrow. If I allocated time to isolate at either end (returning involves 14 days in managed isolation at the border). Yet by arriving in a country in lockdown – my why for visiting is to fulfil my need to connect and see my loved ones. Time with my family who are getting older, babes and tweens that are growing, friends that now feel distant. I miss them massively. Yet – it’s not socially responsible. I would be putting others at risk, some of whom are vulnerable. This does not stop me from feeling gutted.
Having given this time to get my head around where we are, I know it’s perfectly normal to feel more than ONE thing—
✅ personal disappointment
✅ global empathy
✅ gratitude + more – ALL at the SAME time.
In case no one has given you permission to do the same, I’m granting it to you now. If you continue to be frustrated about your travel plans being restricted, feel it all.
If you want to thump the pillow about those trips you continue to dream about, be frustrated, cry if you want to. Go for it and feel it – express it.
It helped me to get clarity to focus on how best I can utilise self-awareness. My experience invariably translates into learning that clients can benefit from – the 3 steps below can help – Take a Tea break (15 mins) and get writing..
3 Steps for clarity on how you are feeling.
You are not helpless in any situation. You only make it worse for yourself if you bury your feelings. Try keeping a beach ball underwater … all it wants to do is catapult above the surface and bounce – sound familiar?
When you get clarity around naming how you feel, you are already taking steps towards acceptance and self-compassion. Emotional acceptance promotes mindfulness as well as the ability to see your emotions for what they are, without judgement or attempting to suppress them.
These 3 steps can help : Grab a pen and a piece of paper.
1) Get clarity and write them down – NAME it.
What is the feeling? Be completely honest with yourself. Connect to whatever is true & authentic for you.
⇒Brain dump all your emotions that are present – GO – NOW!
⇒Review the list again, look at any that overlap (eg Sad /down) Decide which one speaks to you the loudest to finalise your shortlist of 5 or 6.
2) Make a pie chart with your shortlist. ACKNOWLEDGE it.
⇒ Draw a circle with a dot in the middle.
⇒ Apportion a slice to each emotion. Subconsciously, your energy will be being zapped if y0u try to suppress your emotions. The size of the slice will directly correlate to how much energy it takes to feel that emotion. (If your dominant emotion is sadness – that will have the biggest slice)
⇒ Take a breath. Give yourself 5 mins to feel them all & get present with each feeling.
This graphic is a simple representation of your internal landscape.
3) Get Creative. Be intentional and design ACTIONS.
⇒Next to each emotion slice – write down a bullet point or 2 on how you might address each emotion.
E.G. Sadness – Book in some self-care or sit with the feeling to embrace it or plan to share your feelings with a trusted friend or colleague.
If there are some that you can’t think of action – that’s all ok – highlight it so you can come back to it without ignoring it.
Name it. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Act with it.
You can access your personal power when you get into action.
If getting into action means talking to someone about how you feel – you are already winning your inner game.
Feelings & actions right now?
I feel immensely #grateful for so much especially the progress of the global 💉vaccine rollout.
❤️My heart is bursting with pride for the commitment of our front line health workers & essential workers around the globe. They consistently put themselves in vulnerable situations to take care of us, kept us safe, ensured we had food, access to necessities & made what seemed impossible, possible.
🙏 Travel has changed for now. The appetite for exploration has not. The online Virtual tours around museums or cities on my bucket list have kept me temporarily nourished. If you haven’t tried them – they are worth it!
No process could have ever been perfect amidst this pandemic.
Continual learnings and feelings are all valid.
The experience of this year has helped me to serve my clients as they feel all their feels around their individual circumstances. Without judgement – holding space as and when was needed – keeping curious and firmly focussed on hope and future horizons.
Current travel restrictions are temporary – feeling disappointment is simply part of being human.
Emotional acceptance promotes mindfulness, or the ability to see the emotion for what it is without judging it or attempting to get rid of it.
- It’s okay to feel – ALL your feels. Feel it – Name it – Accept it.
- Uncertainty and fear trigger anxiety & stress levels.
- Lead with Kindness, Empathy & Self-Compassion – it helps.
- This is temporary & travel is still available to us as we plan for the future.
- A need for Social Connection is part of being human.
- It’s ok to reach out for help
What thoughts and feelings are present for you?
Related to your experience around travel restrictions – what has changed?
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