Since the start of lockdown, many of us have experienced unprecedented stress levels. While the quality and the amount of stress a person experiences is determined by themselves, the impact of COVID-19 on individuals has undoubtedly evoked physiological and psychological responses.
What we are going through collectively is part of the human experience: the uncertainties, the disconnection, and the urges to control. What COVID-19 has highlighted is a commonality in that we are sharing vulnerability and collective suffering.
Many people struggle to articulate their needs and feelings. It is important to recognise that your feelings during this time are valid, and that it is okay to feel the stress and anxiety you are going through. Lockdown stress has shown up in many ways, such as insomnia, helplessness, loss, confusion, burnout, loneliness, and isolation.
While the connections we have with ourselves is important, the ones you have with your friends and family are just as pivotal. We rely on these relationships for a lot of our peace, validation, confidence and joy. With social interaction at an all-time low, it’s time to explore how we can stay connected with each other as best as possible, to maintain our relationships and manage the current situation.
So, as we go into Stress Awareness Month, the awareness of your stress is an essential step towards understanding it and the best way to change is by starting today. Many individuals try to heal alone, and this is because we are often programmed to believe that asking for help is a sign of failure. For some, it can be instinctive to nurture everybody but the self. Let's not deny our loved ones the opportunity to care for us. Sometimes our need to control can be motivated by fear which prevents us from accepting the situation.
I invite you to adopt a conscious state when you are looking at stress. Having this awareness requires living in the here and now and not elsewhere.
Working with a therapist can help individuals embrace kindness and positive attitudes when surrounded with uncertainty and stressful moments. It can help us understand our stress and the importance of our established bonds with friends and family. It is also a space where we can create a new bond with someone who is solely focused on our wellbeing. Through reflection in psychotherapy we can start to gain a new perspective on what is happening for us.
Recognising the ability to understand your thoughts, needs and feelings, along with the realization that your opinions have value even if they are only your opinion, is a step forward. The understanding that stress takes place when we give up control, not when we keep control.
Being able to understand vulnerability in the face of uncertainty requires courage which can lead to new experiences. Navigating uncertainty requires awareness and a sense of acceptance. Nobody can control our external world of stress, however as individuals we can control our inner world.
Stress may show up in many forms, but it is crucial to embrace all challenges to better your emotional wellbeing. When we are willing to give up judging our emotions, we can begin to experience self-acceptance because the connection is meaningful. Any pearls of wisdom learned during this time can give a glimmer of light, leading to a greater understanding of why the stress is showing up.