When change impacts your personal wellness
Change is the worst. But also the best; a fresh start. That’s why we love the planning around the New Year right? And now we’re all jaded because 2020 was supposed to be THE year for a lot of us. Like me, you likely had already planned to make some changes in 2020, but only ones that you had carefully and specifically chosen. However a global pandemic has pushed changes we did not ask for; changes that have impacted our personal wellbeing. All the while, we’re being inundated with changing information (along with the consistent use of the word ‘unprecedented’) as we also witness the systems around us having a reckoning all at once – that feels… bleak?
So, how are you doing? And I mean how are you really doing? Because remember back at the end of March and the beginning of April when it felt like we were all just hitting the pause button, and everyone decided they were going to be productive with their time? So bread was baked, closets were cleaned out, and indoor plants were bought and named. We were thriving! Five months later this shtick is old and it feels a bit like Groundhog Day. So what are the differences between who you were at the beginning of March and now at the beginning of August? This is not a rhetorical question – take some time to answer it. There are more self-reflection questions to follow, but this is where we need to start.
I know for me, I used my new hobbies to distract myself and as the novelty of those wore off, I realized that I was going through the motions, I took up old coping mechanisms, and abandoned some good habits I had created. I dug into this a little more and realized that I was just trying to survive; thriving no longer felt like an option available to me. I have done a lot of reading and trial-and-error when it comes to personal wellness so, I took a look at The Six Dimensions of Wellness to re-evaluate how I was really doing. I was not practicing holistic wellness and I am feeling that in every aspect of my life – I’m sleeping differently because I’m not going to the gym, socializing now feels like a burden because it’s all virtual, I’m spending much more time scrolling on my phone than I am reading for enjoyment or for learning, I’m feeling overwhelmed spiritually because of all the tragic news I’m reading. I use present tense because honestly, I’m still figuring it out. I have had to acknowledge that my life as I knew it does not exist right now and that means changing my wellness plan; evaluating what is truly going to serve me during this period of time so that I can thrive again. I keep a sticky note on my computer that reads, “Can you accept life just as it is? Without trying to control it? Experience the peace that acceptance brings.” It’s a gentle reminder to myself that I am responsible for my inner peace, my personal wellness.
To be clear, there is room for both surviving and thriving. There is a lot of shame and guilt being tossed out if you are having a hard time or if you’re doing alright, if you have spent the last five months learning a new language or binging everything on Netflix, if your life is actually better off or if you have experienced loss. So now it is time for you to check-in on you, see how you are really doing and how you are really taking care of yourself. Acceptance of change does not mean numbing your other emotions.
As you reflect on these questions truly listen to yourself and be honest. Try to do so without judgement, shame and guilt, which are no friends of ours:
- What have you learned about yourself?
- What or who is helping you survive and/or thrive?
- What have you been grieving? What do you still need to grieve?
- How is your surrounding environment impacting you? Positively and negatively?
- Are you still practicing self-care? Are you using self-care to recharge or as a coping mechanism?
- List five go-to self-care activities that you can do in the pandemic that have a positive impact on your wellness. If you cannot think of five do some research explore new activities!
- What pitfalls are standing in the way of your optimal personal wellness?
- What are you doing that has good intentions but is not impacting you positively?
- Visualize you in moments of when you felt like your best-self. What contributed to you feeling your best? How can you imitate that?
- Visualize yourself in a happy place, maybe a vacation or a special memory – how can you recreate that in your current environment? Think of visuals, scents, sounds, textures that remind you of that peace, joy, and freedom that you feel in that happy place.
Brittany Ankeny-Dooley, BΣ