March is often described as ‘march of many weathers,’ as it can bring a mix of rain, hail, wind, mists, and shine, sometimes all in one day! Spring is here, but the winter weather winds occasionally sneak through, making this a month of surprises and variety.

The unpredictable march weather has been a suitable backdrop to what continues to be an unpredictable time. This month marked one year since the first lock down, something most of us had hoped would not last this long. This ‘one year on’ milestone therefore may be contributing to a changeable emotional-weather forecast for many, where optimism and calm can turn into restlessness and frustration, as quickly as the march sun can disappear behind the clouds.

With the possibility of ‘many weathers’ in mind, expecting the unexpected, reflecting on what makes us feel comfortable, and acknowledging our own unique experiences, can help us to mindfully navigate the everyday, and support our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Expecting the unexpected

Few of us thought we would spend a second St Patrick’s Day without the traditional enjoyment of parades and face-to-face celebrations. We might have felt surprised by the variety in our mood as this familiar day arrived – something we may also be noticing during ordinary days.

Ongoing restrictions coupled with the challenges many of us have been managing so far, can leave us feeling good one minute, and down the next. Expecting, and accepting, that ups and downs can happen during challenging times, gives us an opportunity to be more understanding of our personal situations, helping unpleasant moods to come and go more easily.

When we notice an unexpected mood change, it can be useful to take a moment’s pause to consider what might be going on for us. Maybe we are missing a loved one, feeling tired from too much screen time, missing old routines, or perhaps we thought of a comforting memory, or heard an unexpected song that lifted our spirits. It is equally important to notice our good moods, so that we get to enjoy precious moments of excitement, joy, optimism, laughter, and hope.

Feeling comfortable is important

As restrictions continue and more time passes, we might find ourselves feeling under pressure to change our routines, or the boundaries that have helped us to feel comfortable so far, particularly if we notice a change in behaviour around us.

Designing our own routine and recognising our personal comfort level, is an important part of managing our mental and emotional wellbeing. This might mean switching from video calls to phone calls for a change, sticking with that early morning shopping time that has worked for us so far, or reminding loved ones that we will be able to meet again, when restrictions ease.

Taking some time to reflect on what works best for us, reminding ourselves of what feels supportive, can help us to continue to keep wellbeing in mind.

Acknowledging our own experiences

Covid has brought considerable change to our day-to day-lives, and also to the ability to predict and plan for special experiences. Many have missed out on anticipated milestones, while others have had to put plans on hold altogether.

Acknowledging the significance of the things we have personally lost or are missing is important, as it can help us to recognise their unique meaning for us. Despite this, we can often find ourselves moving quickly to that old familiar phrase “but it could be worse.” Although this phrase can sometimes help us keep perspective by recalling things we are grateful for, we can also run the risk of dismissing the significance of things we personally have lost, missed out on, or are simply just missing.

Take a moment to acknowledge these experiences. They might include graduations or weddings postponed, funerals we have not been able to attend, familiar school and work routines now unfamiliar, holidays missed, or simply those little me-time moments during a busy day that are not as regular anymore. This acknowledgement can help us to value our experiences, which in turn can make our feelings about them a little easier to absorb.

A final thought…

Reflecting on the unpredictable weathers of march can help us consider how to expect and accept the unexpected, continue to feel comfortable and supported, and acknowledge our own unique experiences. As we near the end of this month of ‘many weathers,’ it may still be useful to keep both an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses with us, as we navigate the unexpected, keeping wellbeing in mind, and looking forward to surer weather ahead.

This post featured as a Monthly Wellbeing Series article in The Midland Tribune on 25th March 2021