Gratitude- what changes will you make coming out of lockdown?
By Kelly Nicholas, Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movement, Bachelor of Health Science in Paramedicine
2020 has been ________? (Insert adjective of choice here). As Victorians emerge from harsh restrictions and we are liberated to move about more, we can openly see optimism creep back in. The spring weather has arrived, the days are longer and we have developed somewhat of a routine again - life seems 'reasonably' normal for the first time in a loooooooooong time!
Think about your own state of mind at this moment - how do you feel? Did you wake up feeling optimistic about the day ahead? Or do you have anxieties and worries that make it difficult to have a positive outlook? Irrespective of where you are on the happiness spectrum, rest assured that we all oscillate between good days and bad.
Many of you have heard of Hugh Van Cuylenburg, author of The Resilience Project. He discusses the Happiness scale as a rating from +5 where you're feeling amazing, to 0 where you feel neutral to -5 where you are overwhelmed and potentially suffering from serious mental health issues. Interestingly, many of us can be very transient within this scale and in fact, it's pretty normal! We can oscillate quite regularly between feeling pretty good to feeling not so great. Who could relate to this during COVID? I know I would often go from "this isn't so bad, we're spending so much time together as a family" to "I'm so over this, we have weeks to go and this sucks!" But what about now? Do you find that you are more emotionally stable now that we have some freedom back?
So that brings me to the segue, what are you grateful for? Have you gained more perspective and have a greater appreciation for what you have?
Here's the thing, if we practice gratitude, empathy and mindfulness (GEM), Hugh states in his podcasts that it builds resilience and can help us to get through difficult times. Taking the positives out of the negatives can help us become more optimistic and give us perspective during times of self doubt. Dealing with extremes of emotion can be difficult and this year has certainly challenged the happiness scale! Who has a new found appreciation for getting to a class and smashing out a workout with friends? Many of you have openly said how much better you feel now that you can come to face to face classes. How different is your day when you know you can devote some time to 'you' - I bet all your relationships are enhanced when you take time for you.... It's not until its taken away that we fully appreciate the liberties we had pre-covid! So what knowledge have you gained from this pandemic and the multi-faceted issues that arise from it? I'll give you some examples of what I have gained through my time during COVID:
I have a job! Yes being married to a Financial Planner, I saw first hand how businesses suffered from harsh lockdowns through absolutely no fault of their own. It made me appreciate the fact that as a Paramedic working for a Government Organisation that I have a pretty secure job....... On the contrary, running our fitness business changed overnight! We went from having classes scheduled to cancelling them indefinitely! BUT we have been able to transform our business to a whole new level that we never thought we would achieve - that has been rewarding, empowering and at times overwhelming from the sheer amount of support from you all! It's made me more willing to explore other opportunities (I had never even heard of zoom pre-covid!) and that has been educational in itself :)
Support local - I always like supporting local businesses but more than ever, COVID has made me appreciate what we have at our doorstep! And I don't want to lose it! We have a truly amazing community and this has been highlighted more than ever this year :)
Nurses rock! I was lucky enough to only go to one confirmed COVID positive patient during the pandemic. I literally wore 3 pairs of gloves that I taped to my Tyvek suit, had a hood on, safety goggles and booties and a mask that I could barely breathe in! I was with this patient for about 10 minutes and that's it! Nurses working on COVID wards often went 8 hours without even having a drink because this meant having to carefully take off all their PPE before putting a clean set back on again (this can take 20 minutes or more to do properly!). They have been our unsung heroes and although many people have their conspiracies, you only need to see what went on in hospitals to appreciate the severity of this virus. Our health care system is truly quite amazing!
I thrive on routine - having the kids and husband at home, no sport or other organised activities on, made for some long days! Yes it was great to play Monopoly, go on some amazing hikes and enjoy sitting by our fire but I didn't realise how much I prosper when my life is regimented! And I'm totally ok with that! I'm truly thankful that my family all work well with structure - my kids leave to walk to school at 8.37am every day, not a minute before or after :). But this works for us and we are all better for it!
Mindfulness matters! Whilst I love doing HIIT, I have been doing a lot more yoga and Pilates. I have a new appreciation for setting intentions and taking a Shavasana to workout the mind and the body. I also try and meditate before bed to help 'switch off' and find guided meditation a great way to self reflect and check in with yourself. This gives me such a clear focus and helps stop the 'traffic' in your brain :)
Finally, it's ok not be ok! I think during 2020, this has become more paramount than ever! I obviously deal with mental health issues a lot in my job but I'm also very cognisant of my own. Taking the time to talk to others, ask if they're ok and self reflect on your own moods can really help work through issues. I think I have become more transparent than ever with my own thoughts and I encourage you all to do the same.
There's a lot more that I could discuss (I love mindfulness!) however this would be a good time for you to self- reflect on what you have learned through this time? Maybe nothing has changed for you or maybe you have made some wholesale changes? Either way, lets hope we continue onward and upward and can enjoy the festive season with our loved ones. :)