Having stepped out of lockdown, we can see the emotional and physical impact this has had on us as carers. Many of us experienced various waves of emotion. From "it's fine" or "I'm excited", to "feelings of anxiety" over a second spike and "frustration" at some people's apparent disregard for the protective measures in place.
If you are experiencing any of these emotions, please know that you're not on your own and that actually it's completely normal. Whatever you're feeling it's normal. There is no precedent way for how we should be feeling.
We have each entered lockdown from our own unique place (emotionally and physically). We have each lived our own version of lockdown - completely unique to each of us. From being totally isolated in our caring role, to being separated from the person we care for. From thriving, to experiencing bereavement and loss. From having to work and face infection risks to losing our jobs. There can be no 'right' way to feel, as we re-enter 'normal'.
"The only 'right way' to feel, is how each of us is feeling."
For those of us, with some underlying worry, concern or anxiety however, just remember that our brains like logic. So, the 'what will happen next with Covid-19?' is at best a guess, but typically a complete unknown. And so, there is little logic for our brains to hold onto. This can be overwhelming for our minds.
Chatting about this in our cuppas, has been really helpful. With lots of advice and tips for helping us to "feel less anxiety" and some really insightful advice around how shifting our perspective can really make us feel better.
We've all seen the images of the crowded beaches. And with the pubs having just reopened, no doubt the papers will be full of images this week, of crowded pubs and unsafe social distancing.
Many of us have and continue to shield vulnerable people. Many of us are shielding ourselves, because well, put simply, who will take over our caring role if we're ill? What extra pressure would that put on our household, if we were to become ill?
So what can we do to support ourselves, to become accustomed to this new 'normal'?
Below we share some of the soundbites and tips that came out of our cuppas, and which are helping some of us to keep our cool.
Managing our feelings about other people's behaviour -
"It all depends on how you look at things - Perspective changes everything."
"Social media and the news sensationalise things!"
Yes, there is no doubt that the overcrowding and irresponsible behaviour is taking place. But perhaps it's not always quite as bad as the news or social media 'shares', will try and make us have believe.
Carers reported seeing pictures of overcrowded beaches from two angles. The first angle making it look horrendous. The second angle, showing that actually there were good, safe distances being maintained.
Sometimes it's just about perspective, and which we choose to believe.
Why is this helpful?
Well worrying about a crowded beach we're not going to go to, can cause our body and mind stress, and maybe even anxiety.
We can't change what's going on out there, but by choosing to believe the 'better angle' we can achieve some level of peace. Which can only be good for us.
Remember anxiety weakens our immune system, so if we can simply choose to believe a 'better' version of the truth, then we're helping ourselves.
Ultimately we can't change the behaviour of the people on the beach, but perhaps we can change how we choose to feel about it. And perhaps seeing these photos will help us through bringing a fresh perspective to consider.
And it's not just beaches that we're seeing plastered all over social media and the news. No wonder we can feel our blood pressure rising! Whenever we see pictures of irresponsible behaviour, it just might help us to keep these perspective shots in our mind. Check out this article, debunking some of the well circulated 'crowd' pictures.
"We don't know what other people have been through or are thinking"
A very wise carer on one of our cuppas, raised the point that we don't know why a family went to the beach that day.
"Perhaps it was their first outing out. Perhaps they were bouncing off the walls. Perhaps they were at their wits end. They also, probably, had no idea it was going to be so busy when they got there."
She said that thinking about it like that, helped her to feel hopeful, calmer and more kindly towards the situation.
Of course, there will always be those people that just simply don't care, or 'get it'. That flout the 'rules' without seemingly a second thought. We chatted about these people too, with some really helpful and sensible advice coming through.
It was helpful to not simply assume these people are 'bad'. That they have just had different lives, experiences and therefore beliefs about what is appropriate or not. They're unlikely to be a carer or know anyone affected badly by Covid-19. And so, they simply view everything very differently to us. It doesn't make it right, but we discussed that assuming they were ignorant rather than vindictive, reduced the intensity of our feelings towards the situation.
And ultimately this helps us.
"It comes down to looking at what we can and can't control. Worrying about the stuff we can't control, achieves nothing but makes us feel worse. Let it go".
Let's talk perspectives.
Managing our own feelings post-lockdown
As we re-adjust and start to go out, our minds start to rewrite what is safe and what feels safe. And as we 'survive' each new trip, we wire in a new successful memory from which we can draw from. Even if a trip out wasn't a total success, our minds have wired in some learnings (for next time), which we can draw upon.
"Little steps, and new memories are helping to build our confidence."
Before we have these new 'successful memories', we're relying on our imagination, and that's where things can get tricky. Our mind can be great at 'disaster planning'. And as our mind believes that everything we say and think is true, this can create challenges for us.
We posted a blog, with some helpful tips and insights on how to managing any feelings of anxiety you have, ahead of stepping out.
I've re-shared the tip around 'planning for successful trip out' and why this is helpful, below. And you can find all the tips in the original blog post here.
Carers' Tips on re-entering the world!
So many tips came up throughout our cuppas. The above two were the biggies that we discussed, but there were lots of other simple and effective tips and words of advice:
Just because we can go out, doesn't mean we have to. Do what feels right for ourselves.
Take small steps. We don't have to do everything at once. Maybe try a trip to an outdoor garden centre to get yourself started.
"We always seem to find a solution or just a listening ear can make us feel better!"
4. Wear a mask and take hand gel.
5. Meet on a 1:1 basis to start with, and build up as we get more confident.
6. Limit our social media and news if it's just fuelling our worry.
7. Focus on what we can control, e.g. our face mask, hand gel, wherever we go.
8. Ignore what we can't control e.g. everybody else!
It does all seem to come back to the same point however:
"Accepting that we'll all do things differently. And accepting what we can control, whilst learning how to ignore what is out of our control and causing us concern."
We each have our own beliefs about what is right for us. This means there will always be people we disagree with. Remembering that thanks to our own unique journeys and experiences, we are all looking at the 'new normal' through different 'perspective glasses'!
Keeping this in mind can help us to stay calmer, as we watch everyone take their own journey back to their own 'new normal'.
What will be your next step?