Early evening autumn leaves

It seems like a long time since we were first told to stay at home, the familiarity of restaurants, coffee shops, weekend drives, and visiting friends and family gone almost overnight. Many of us have also been adjusting to working from home, a rapid increase in daily use of technology, and managing new routines.

News of further restrictions means we are approaching the October bank holiday weekend with far less of the usual outlets available to us, and many of us may be feeling down, anxious, frustrated, and fed up. Recognising and acknowledging these feelings, and practising grounding and reflection techniques can help to make these experiences more manageable.

Here are some tips to incorporate these simple practices into your day:

1. Recognise that you may experience a rollercoaster of emotions this bank holiday weekend

You will experience many feelings during a crisis, and it can feel like a rollercoaster you would prefer to get off.  Anger, frustration, sadness, as well as positive feelings of gratitude and hope depending on the situations you face, will rise and fall away, sometimes are great speed.  

Taking a moment to acknowledge these feelings as they rise and fall, and trusting that the uncomfortable feelings will pass eventually is the key to being able to move on without getting stuck in the loop. 

3. Redirect your attention away from negative thought cycles by practising simple techniques

If you find yourself dwelling on frustrations and resentments, it’s important to break the negative thought spiral by using some simple techniques to redirect your attention.

Step away from your current situation by calling a friend, going for a short walk, listening to music, watching your favourite show, or simply stopping for a moment and taking a few deep breaths.  This interrupts the negative thoughts and reduces the adverse impact on your wellbeing.

Grounding techniques like taking a deep breath, or counting your steps gently in your mind or out loud, are simple, informal techniques you can do to ground yourself when your mind wanders too far. You can do these exercises while doing other things, like washing dishes or walking between rooms.  

2. Reflect on the good things

We are all looking forward at the moment to a better time when things feel normal again, however times of crisis can also present a good opportunity to look back and reflect on some of the good things that have come from it.

Ask yourself what have you learned from this experience so far, what have you gained, what has pleasantly surprised you, and what will you bring with you when this is all over?

Write your reflections down.  The act of reflective writing can help you to get some of the worries and frustrations off your mind and onto the page.  This lightens your load and frees up some space in your head, reducing feelings of stress and overwhelm. It can also help to remind you of what’s going well, instead of focusing on what’s not going well.

So, as the long weekend approaches and the country continues to face into uncertainty, remember these tips to help you to manage more positively.

  • Acknowledge your changing feelings as a normal rise and fall of emotion, trusting that uncomfortable feelings will pass if we let them pass. Do this by recognising your feelings, remembering it is natural to have feelings, and trusting that uncomfortable feelings won’t last forever.
  • Notice the good things, writing them down to help you to reflect on what you have learned, gained, and are grateful for, and to get some of the worries and frustrations off your mind and onto the page.
  • Re-direct your attention from negative thought cycles when your thoughts start running away with you. In this way you avoid feeding the negative thought cycle. Step away from your current situation and redirect your attention to something more manageable – a walk, talking with a friend, or taking a few deep breaths.

A final thought…

It is worth keeping in mind that times of crisis and disappointment, although challenging and uncomfortable, can help to build our resilience so that we are more equipped to face change and adversity in the future.  This can be a positive outcome from a difficult situation. These simple techniques help to build this resilience by connecting you with things you enjoy, with activities and people you find supportive, and building grounding practices that help to reduce worry and make experiences feel more manageable.

Seasonal milestones are an important part of how we experience the year. Read more about how you might connect with the enjoyment and traditions of Halloween and the Autumn season this year.