Living in a paradox during a pandemic

Thank you for joining me for this week’s blog! This week we address the “elephant in the room”. Living through this pandemic is challenging – for so many reasons.

Is it possible that a few months ago all we wanted was some time off, to spend with family, or take a break from our hectic lives? We’ve all contemplated how nice it would be to work from home, spend more time with the kids, get those home projects finished, try that new recipe or walk the dog more often. Well here we are, day ?? of quarantine (we’ve lost count), and we have all probably tapped into some of that list above by now, and yet somehow it didn’t have the effect we had hoped.

So why don’t some of us feel a sense of success or happiness now that we’ve “gotten what we want”? Is it because we were forced into it? I have heard some rumblings of people feeling very confused and often at conflict with themselves because of this situation and how they are feeling about it.

Comparing your situation to others

Once again, social media is negatively influencing how we make sense of what is right and what others are doing, and how that ultimately compares to our own situation. If you’re scrolling through your feed you are probably seeing:

  • pictures of crafts completed by kids with no mess or fights;
  • couples both happily working from home;
  • beautifully and perfectly baked homemade sourdough bread; and
  • advertisements for that vacation you had to cancel.

Even outside of social media, when you head outside you see that couple or family who are happily interacting with one another. All of these images cause confusion, frustration and feelings of insecurity in our own lives.

Your experience may be more of the following:

  • the kids crafts turned into a disaster;
  • you’re irritated by the way your partner sips their coffee every single time;
  • homemade bread – how does a person even find flour these days?;
  • experiencing that sense of relief when you need to run to the grocery store by yourself (freedom!) for that essential item (even with full protective gear);
  • maybe you notice your shoulders relax when the kids are napping or there is a moment of quiet in the home;
  • or perhaps if you live alone, you have decided that it’s actually nice to have some time to be alone.

Here’s the good news: It is ok to have all of the above feelings or thoughts, and it is actually completely normal. It is normal because many of us experience these exact feelings or thoughts. It is also important to remember that images or snapshots in time don’t tell the whole story. We all know the truth behind those perfect pictures you scroll across in your feed, or those families that you walk past on the sidewalk. 

Making sense of the conflicting feelings and thoughts

Here at Simply Counselling Services, we have always encouraged our clients to do what makes sense for them and their families – we believe in following your intuition. This is more important than ever in these challenging times.

So how do we filter through the bombardment of positive images and not let it influence how we feel or the decisions we make for ourselves and our families? Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Don’t judge…. Yourself! Be at peace with what you are feeling. You are feeling it for a reason, so don’t fight it. Sit with it, and dedicate some time to reflecting on why you are having those feelings. Does it feel like you need to spend some time working through them or can you just let them be? The biggest conflict happens when we try to fight what we are feeling – in trying to fight it, the emotion tends to grow bigger in the background, which causes more distress. If we acknowledge the feeling and sit with it, we can typically move through it in a shorter amount of time.
  2. Be mindful. Try to stay in the moment either by yourself or with your family. It is only when we are taken away from the present moment that we are often interrupted with negative thoughts.
  3. Prioritize. Is it important to compare yourself to others at this moment? Or is your time better spent on some quick self-care to re-center your own thoughts and feelings? Check in with yourself about how observing or comparing to others is contributing to your mood and interactions with those you love.
  4. Shift the comparison to yourself. If you must make comparisons, focus on your own markers and compare your current functioning to a time in the past. Choose a time when you were doing well and your mental health was in a good place, and consider: what were you doing in that moment that led to that success? How can you incorporate that into your life now? Even though we face many restrictions right now, you might be surprised about what you can do to shift your own emotions in this time of constraint.

If you’ve tried the tips we outlined above and still feel stuck, that’s why we’re here! Sometimes that outside perspective is all we need to snap out of a funk or have a change of scenery. There will always be limits to what we can do on our own when it comes to mental health, and while we can give you some tips and tricks, we know that they will not always work for everyone. Please reach out to our team and we will work through this together – after all, we know we are alone together, and together, we can conquer these unique challenges.