By Katie Mills
Without a doubt, for many of us it’s been pretty tough recently. We’ve lived through unprecedented times and experienced changes in our lifestyle, relationships and freedoms we could never have imagined 2 years ago. This may have taken a toll on different aspects of our life. We will each have experienced varied impacts from COVID restrictions, social distancing and lockdowns. Evidence indicates these measures have resulted in heightened psychological distress across communities and in particular increased levels of stress (The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, October, 2021). However, all too often we’re dealing with the day to day of family, work and all the practical stuff that consequently, we don’t recognise the extent our own coping mechanisms may have taken a hit.
Campaigns such as ‘R U OK’ have increased our awareness of mental health issues. Importantly, promoting the need to ‘check in’ with our friends and family, to have a conversation about how they are coping. Similarly, it’s just as important to ask ourselves that question from time to time, to ‘check in’ with the self and ask “Am I OK?”. Am I carrying around unhelpful thoughts or feelings? Am I feeling more stressed or anxious than usual? Have old worries or resentments resurfaced? Or maybe I just can’t quite shake that sense of unease?
Returning to usual practices over the coming weeks will hopefully provide the pathway back to some normality and hope for what lies ahead. The importance of re-establishing healthy habits and routines will play a critical role in getting our mind and body in a healthy state. Getting back to the gym, joining friends in a class, doing that ocean swim, eating nutritious food, having quality seep and laughing out loud will all contribute to restoring a healthier you.
However, it may take time to process our experiences and find some mental clarity. Without this we can struggle to determine our goals or restore motivation. Yet, the impact of stress, anxiety or painful experiences of everyday life often gets left unattended. If this resonates with you, or someone close to you, seeking counselling may provide a helpful way forward. If this represents a course of action you’ve never previously considered, it can be a little unnerving. It doesn’t have to be. A personalised and flexible approach, based on evidence based practice, can be established in collaboration with you to address your needs and goals.
It needn’t be a lengthy process. Don’t underestimate the power of being able to share what you are experiencing with the reassurance of validation and acceptance. Alternatively, you may determine a longer process may be helpful, to explore further and to seek an empowering understanding of who you are.
Only you know your own experience and whether seeking help and support might be worth a try. If you think it might, please reach out for the support you deserve. Remember, looking after your mental health is an essential element of the holistic approach to being a healthier person.
Katie Mills is a qualified and registered Counsellor at Brighten Counselling & Psychotherapy.
For more info please visit: www.brightencounselling.com.au