So, you’re not feeling happy during lockdown. That’s totally understandable, but here’s what might help

So, you’re not feeling happy during lockdown. That’s totally understandable, but here’s what might help

In Sydney, Australia, we’re in our fifth week of lockdown. This follows another multi-week lockdown back in 2020, but those in Melbourne had even more and longer restrictions throughout much of last year.

Even for those of you who’re not in lockdown, the last 18 months would have presented challenges and restrictions, difficulties of a social, financial and psychological nature.

And we still don’t know when it will all end.

Given this, it’s totally understandable if you’re not feeling happy; or hopeful. In fact, it’s totally understandable if you’re feeling any of a range of negative or unpleasant emotions including, but not limited to, anxiety and fear, anger and frustration, depression and hopelessness.

But understandable does not mean immutable; that is, although they’re normal and appropriate we can still look to ameliorate Covid related distress and ensure we’re feeling as good as we can, as often as we can.

So today, I thought I’d run through some of the more common emotions along with some tips for taking control as best you can.

To begin with, I invite you to accept whatever it is you’re feeling. As humans, living in uncertain times and facing challenging circumstances, it’s not surprising we might feel a whole range of emotions. No one should expect to be happy all the time, even in good times. It’s OK not to be OK and accepting this is the first step to doing something constructive.

Following this, it can be helpful to name all the various emotions you’re feeling. Research suggests that naming unpleasant emotions makes them more tangible and, therefore, more manageable.

Once you’ve named them, look to apply specific strategies that have been proven to be useful. I don’t have the time or space here to address every single possible emotion but some of the more common ones, along with some of the more common and effective coping strategies, are:

  • Fear and anxiety (associated with catching the virus and getting sick) – try to stay present and try not to worry about that which has not yet happened. Know, also, that if you take care and do the right thing you can mitigate your risks. It’s understandable to feel anxious but grounding yourself, in the here and now, can most definitely help
  • Sadness and grief (linked to the losses you’ve experienced in recent times) – accept that you have lost, that we’ve all lost, but also that for most of us there are almost certainly still things for which we can be grateful. If you can find any silver lining to the covid clouds, try to focus on this
  • Depression and hopelessness (given this has gone on so long and it’s hard to see an end) – as difficult as it can be to see at times, this will end, as all difficult times do. As real as the depression is, so too should there be some real hope as we see a belated vaccine rollout taking place, and as we look to other parts of the world where life is slowly returning to normal
  • Anger and frustration (with politicians and/or those who’ve not adhered to recommendations) – as hard as it can be to apply sometimes, we need to accept that we can only control what we can control, and we need to accept that which is beyond our control. As such, there’s little we can do to change the beliefs or behaviours of some others, no matter how much we might wish to. And as understandable as it is, our anger and frustration won’t change them or make anything better

I very much believe these simple but proven strategies will provide some relief; but I also very much know that like many things in life, they’re easier to say than to do. Accordingly, many of us will still feel a range of feelings and some of those feelings will be unpleasant ones.

As already noted, that’s OK. Accept them and then, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for struggling, for having low motivation or for not being as productive or as happy as you’d like to be. And finally, don’t feel as though you have to do all this or get through all this on your own. Where and when you can, reach out and ask for help because together, we will all do better.