Covid-19 pandemic unified us in the experiences of struggle, loss, anxiety and togetherness. It brought to the fore the undeniable uncertainty about what the future will bring. It is easy, even justifiable, to lose sight of what matters for our wellbeing when life takes a bad turn. So, when this happens, what is important for psychological well-being?
Numerous methods of self-care have become the main ways we look after our body and mind. We seek beauty treatments, join a gym class, spend time with family and become experts in meditation.
At the time of the pandemic when many methods of self-care have changed shape, there are a few things we need to remember that are important for our psychological well-being; self-awareness, curiosity and reflection, balance and kindness.
Understanding ourselves and the world is possible through self-awareness. We have the capacity to think about our feelings, thoughts and actions. To be aware of ourselves is to understand that we only exist in relation to something. When hard times hit, like the pandemic, it is worthwhile remembering that the whole world is in the state of uncertainty and that many people are feeling disconnected and isolated. We can try to focus on what we are grateful for and help others who are less able. If we are unwell it is important to reach out and talk. Active self-awareness is not easy work. However, thinking and reaching deeply to understand makes us stronger to cope with uncertainty.
Curiosity and Reflection
Just like self-awareness, curiosity and reflection can be hard work. Especially when our past has been painful and life hasn’t been loveable. Reflection involves thinking about our experiences and actions, whilst curiosity implies a seeking to understand how these experiences or actions affected us, or other people. This means dealing with happy and sad emotions and sharing them with others. We all have feelings we set aside for later and the pandemic is a good opportunity to zone in on these and reflect on them. Once we give time to ourselves, we could extend a helping hand to another, with hope that this will provide them with an experience of safety and trust, which can help them face their own struggles.
Finding our own balance in living is connected to being self-aware and reflecting on our experiences. Luckily, our body and mind are brilliant at communicating when we are out of balance. We just need to listen. We may experience physical pain or negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves and our lives. Discovering what lies deep beneath our lack of balance and how we respond to it is a way of living, rather than a temporary process. We focus on managing negative thoughts and emotions, while we should focus on embracing them as our body’s way of letting us know something is out of balance. First step, and the hardest for some due to hard life experiences, towards restoring balance is an orientation towards kindness.
Learning how to be kind to oneself and others is one of life’s important tasks. Feeling hurt and hurting other people happens all the time and is very often a by-product of our own overwhelming feelings. I am not talking about a person who fights in self-defence and hurts another, or a person who purposefully enjoys hurting other people, the former is always right and the latter always wrong. I am talking about our tendency to adopt a critical and defensive attitude when we feel pain. We look for things or people we can blame for how we feel and with this, we prevent our capacity for self-awareness and kindness. Kindness is a relational experience. We choose to approach ourselves and the world by orienting towards kindness. Once this happens life’s difficulties can be approached with honesty, where we can see the connections between our histories, feelings, beliefs and actions. We need to accept that happiness is only possible in relation to pain. It is in this disclosure that we begin the work towards honest existence and it is the way we create the possibility for enduring emotional and psychological well-being.
Even though the pandemic has made uncertainty very real for us all, the reality is, uncertainty is a nature of our existence. It is through self-awareness that we learn to accept it; it is through curiosity that we learn to face it; it is through reflection that we learn to make sense of it; it is through balance that we learn to live with it and finally, it is through kindness that we learn to create something out of it. Through this journey we gain the feeling of emotional and psychological wellness, no matter what the circumstances.