I love me a good metaphor. ‘Happy as a pig in mud’, ‘full as a centipede’s sock drawer’ etc. etc. During tough situations, (I don’t know about you, but this is my first global pandemic and definitely counts as a tough situation!), I like to take solace in a metaphor to add humour, imagery and most importantly a sense of hope.
In my field of work, a couple of my favourites are ‘riding the waves of emotions’ and ‘weathering the emotional storm’. COVID-19 is indeed a ‘storm’ and it wasn’t on the BOM radar. We find ourselves in uncharted waters, thrown in the deep end, with only time telling who will sink or swim!
Every person now finds themselves the ‘captain’ of their own wellbeing, the ‘ship’. Every captain needs a crew that looks after the needs of the ship and your crew is up to you. I’m going to give you some ideas to help build and strengthen your crew.
This storm has brought a lot of perspectives to the surface. One that has stuck with me is this; ‘our ancestors were asked to pick up a gun and go to war, we are asked to stay home and stay safe.’ With this, I’m reminded that I live in a privileged country with experts working around the clock to keep us safe. Perspective can work the other way too. My sister told me how she repeated to herself ‘coronavirus, coronavirus’ after my nephew accidentally threw a rock at her car, to remind herself not to expend stress and energy on the little things. I acknowledge that this storm has significantly impacted people in different ways, so try using perspective however it might be helpful for you.
Gratitude isn’t always easy. Humans are hard-wired to focus on the negatives to assess threats to our safety. Taking time to purposefully focus on the positives has immense benefits for our ‘ship’, so this crew member is essential. Try this: use each letter in your name to label something you are grateful for, particularly during a storm like this.
- A- Adorable nieces and nephews. I love them.
- L- Listening to podcasts. Brene Brown and Hamish and Andy keep me company on my runs.
- L- Labs: well, one lab in particular, my puppy Ralph.
- Y- Yummy things: easter eggs on special and homebrewed coffee.
A lonely crew is likely to be unproductive and no good for your ship. Staying in touch with loved ones has never been more important or more achievable with the number of virtual platforms available! On the daily, check in with someone you love, your strong friend, your quirky uncle, your loving grandparent and simply ask ‘How are you going with all of this?’
For many of us, a kind act brings great vibes from putting some love out in the world. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been consciously working this crew member just that little bit harder. I’ve sent Daniel’s Donuts to loved ones, put teddy bears in my window, been super friendly to supermarket workers, and given a wide berth and a smile to all I’ve passed on the walking trail. Kind actions are always within our control, so in a storm where there are many factors we can’t control, we need to take advantage of this one.
The best way to get a ship through a storm is to KEEP IT MOVING. I know you might not be able to play the sport you love right now or go to the gym and do your standard workout and that sucks. But you CAN keep moving in other ways. YouTube and free apps (or many free trials of apps) offer a bunch of workout ideas. Why not take this time to improve a skill that will help you when you do get back to sport? Increase your jump, and strengthen your knees or ankles. Challenge a mate to do the same. The time is now to get creative.
Be patient – it’s normal to feel unsteady and uncertain. This storm will pass eventually, and your ship can and will survive. It may have some wear and tear after, but there will be a story of survival to the wear and tear, and lessons learned for the next storm that comes. Be patient with yourself. Some days you will do chores and go for a run, other days you will stay in your PJs until after midday and eat peanut butter straight from the jar (guilty!) – it’s called balance and it’s ok.
Your crew is waiting for directions, what’s it gonna be captain?
Wellbeing App suggestions
Ally is a Psychologist and Welfare Champion at OTLR with extensive experience working in private practice and educational settings. She is passionate about working in the youth mental health space and supporting adolescents through the challenges of their teenage years. Ally is involved with several organisations who work to raise awareness of mental illness and reduce stigma, and she is also a Mental Health First Aid instructor for the Youth course. Ally loves playing netball, having a solid nap and all things chocolate.