It’s spring, more restrictions are lifting and there is a sense of things improving or moving in the right direction – yes?
Mental health awareness week brought a raft of news items; most of which brought concerning news about the impacts of the pandemic on psychological wellbeing across society. I will save you the details except to say the main findings all carry one central message – the need for us to focus on self-care – for ourselves and for others.
The increasingly scientific and technological sophistication that surrounds us can mean we do not expect to be able to answer that question ourselves, instead we can hold an assumption that someone somewhere will know more than us? An initial response may well be to ask Alexa.
In therapy the underlying assumption is that we all have the personal resources we need to look after ourselves but that we can lose our confidence, feel too tired to think clearly, be overwhelmed by our experiences or have been forced – by others, society, systems etc to do things that go against our best interests so that we lose sight of our innate wisdom.
Often people have spent so much time and energy struggling with a concern that spending more time telling someone new all about it can feel like the last thing they want to do, especially when they are likely to be feeling disillusioned with themselves, vulnerable and possibly embarrassed or ashamed that they are struggling.
Saying that we all know the answer but need someone else to help us, is indeed paradoxical. But in essence the answer lies within and the therapist knows a process that can facilitate your being able to find it. The process of therapy is about self-care, it is about putting focus, fostering curiosity and finding compassion in relation to a human struggle, also paradoxically this comes at a time when we feel under pressure for energy and so in seeing a therapist you might look at it as also hiring in some energy?
Therapy as a profession exists because it does know that everyone can improve their quality of life irrespective of limitations if the right focus is applied. My hope in calling this article “How are things in the world of you?” is to reassure you that at a time when there is so much information, so many studies, so much science, so many stories, views, opinions and experts that ultimately it is you who knows you best.
Recognising you are struggling is the starting point for self-care, knowing the warning signs, recognising unhealthy situations, knowing how to respond in crises are all key. The pandemic has rocked our collective sense of security, so whether you recognise direct impacts such as bereavement, illness, loss of employment, financial hardship, increased work stress, impacts on the work life balance, home schooling, caring for vulnerable friends or family, decreased opportunities for recreation and relaxation; or whether you have felt relatively unscathed, our interconnected and interrelatedness means we all need to individually assess how we are doing through the tools of self-care.
Personally, I like to suggest reflecting regularly on these questions:
- How are you feeling?
- Do you know what has led you to feel that way?
- So, what would you like to do about it?
- What might the consequences be?
- What is therefore the most skilful action to take?
The questions sound simple but if you are exhausted, they really may not be easy to answer and, of course, that in itself is a great bit of self-awareness?
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach
UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych
Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.
Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose
Read the previous one – Mind Matters – Don’t let it stress you out…
See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here
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