So how has the last twelve months been for you? Where do we start answering that question? We all have different tales to tell.
Social media and the TV have given us so many opportunities to look into other people’s worlds. Some of the images have been harrowing and heartbreaking, whereas others have been heart-warming and lifted our spirits.
The one thing we all have in common is that it’s been a life changing experience. Perhaps none of us will ‘bounce back’ but rather slowly emerge as people who’ve been changed in some way.
This blog post is going to look at some simple strategies that might help as we step back into a more normal world.
How are you feeling?
Even for people who usually enjoy really good health, it’s been a challenging time. The stresses we’ve all experienced over the last 12 months have commonly caused an increase in background anxiety levels. That ongoing feeling of being on edge and tense causes so many physical symptoms such as headaches, irritability and fatigue.
Our worlds have become smaller with less varied activities which makes it hard to anchor events to time. Symptoms of ‘brain fog’ and poorer short-term memory adds to a perception of being slightly out of step with reality.
What about your emotions?
Going hand in hand with these physical symptoms, there is the emotional aspect of our wellbeing. The lack of physical interaction coupled with loneliness and isolation, frustration and anger, that sense of being out of control, all add to an imbalance that we’ve never experienced before. Throw in a lack of sleep, which has been a common complaint for many, and you have a physical and emotional melting pot that sometimes feels as if it’s going to bubble over.
What about major life events?
Lockdown for many has been punctuated by some significant life events such as welcoming a new life into the world and saying goodbye to a loved one. It’s not been possible to celebrate the good times and support each other through loss in the usual ways.
A new mum captured the experience so well with her words; ‘This pregnancy has felt unreal – as if it was just going on in the background of my life. I used to look down and see my bump and do a double take! The normal activities such as with sharing the news with family and friends, shopping for baby clothes somehow would have validated the pregnancy and these were missing from my life. The hospital delivery was a really positive experience, and the staff were just wonderful. Five months later I sometimes look at my beautiful daughter and have to pinch myself. I can hardly believe she’s here and she’s mine – it still feels like a dream.’
Simple steps to help us move forwards
Take some time out to look back and reflect.
Sit down for a few minutes with a pen and paper, get yourself comfortable and jot down some notes for yourself. Begin with a few words that capture any struggles you’ve experienced. Next write down a list of the things you’ve done that you’re proud of. You’ll be surprised at the challenges you’ve risen to. New ways of working, zooming, home schooling, supporting others, taking up more exercise, personalise your list and don’t forget that you did well just making it through the ups and downs of each day.
Be gentle with yourself.
Don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations. Perhaps we’re all going to step out blinking, feeling a bit bruised and buffeted by our experiences.
Expect to emerge rather than bounce back and celebrate the fact that you’re different. Ask yourself:
- What have I really missed?
- Are there things I’d rather not start again?
- Have I developed any new habits that I’d like to continue?
Set some simple goals that will make you feel great, and when they are achieved reward yourself.
One patient informed me she was going to carry on her habit of doing her pelvic floor exercises at the start of the News at Ten. She’d already seen such good results from picking up on this habit over the last six months and was keen to stay focused.
Her reward was to throw out her black lockdown leggings and treat herself to some light-coloured trousers and sexy underwear.
Be empowered to help yourself.
We know that our routine NHS services have been affected by the Covid crisis with longer waiting lists to see healthcare professionals and consultants.
Thinking about pelvic health, one of the positives has been the explosion in great quality resources such as online courses, videos and blog articles that give evidence-based advice to women looking at ways of helping themselves.
Pelvic health and continence problems can be addressed very well with this self-help approach. We know the recommended gold standard first line treatments are correct pelvic muscle exercises along with good bladder and bowel care- so you can start today!
Double check that any source you use is reliable, produced by a healthcare professional or person with a reputable qualification.
Here’s a short list of excellent online resources:
Find out more about Jane here.
The information on this website is written to give general information and does not in any way replace advice from your G.P. or qualified healthcare professional. If you have any specific concerns about your health you should seek an individual consultation with your G.P. for diagnosis and advice.