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Being kind to ourselves amid weariness

The Director of Invercargill's Loss and Grief Centre, Caroline Loo, pictured by Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. Photo: Rachel Loo
9 HOPES

Have the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and measures to contain it left you feeling tired and drained?

“I’m finding that people are tired, really tired. They’re also quite emotional,” says Caroline Loo, the Director of the Loss and Grief Centre in Invercargill.

Many of us are feeling uneasy, unsettled and can’t find our “resting place” any more. It’s like we’re always on alert; wondering when and where the next community cases of the sometimes-deadly virus might occur.

The feeling that we need to be prepared for this, while also dealing with everyday matters, is exhausting and draining, she says.

Caroline observed that during the April and May national lockdown to contain the virus, a level of grief emerged, related to loss of connections and security.

Now, we’re experiencing a collective grief because we’re all going through massive change, although the impacts are different on each individual.

Some people are rebuilding their entire lives. Others have lost jobs, security, freedom, connections with loved ones or perhaps the prospect of overseas trips or the ability to plan a New Zealand holiday.

“A lot of people haven’t really understood that this loss is what’s contributing to their tiredness.”

The changes may be simpler, such as no longer being able to buy certain Christmas gifts online, however this still needs rethinking.

“That’s all extra work, that creates extra tiredness.”

We’ve never had to navigate through this type of reality before, and the need to create a template for dealing with it can be tiring, she says.

A river analogy

Caroline gives the example of a river, which symbolises Covid-19, and how we’re all paddling down this swirling river in our own waka.

Same storm, same flooded river – different waka.”

 

Understanding this gives people permission to embrace and own their reality and the impact of that. As Kiwis, we tend to dismiss our feelings by saying that ‘someone else is worse off than me’.

Just as parents teach their children to name a problem or emotion, such as being hungry or angry, so also it’s important for adults navigating the Covid-19 crisis to name, own and accept its impact.

For example, saying “I feel unsettled by Covid” helps us to accept this. If we don’t name and own our feelings, they have more power over us, she says.

Caring for ourselves

Speaking about other solutions to this present weariness, Caroline encourages us to care for ourselves. If we put time into looking after our own well-being, then we can help others.

Self-care is not self-indulgence; self-care is self-respect.”

 

Her suggestions include carrying out a small ritual each day which you can look forward to; breathing and other exercises; and planning nice things which you can anticipate, while being realistic and not planning too far ahead.

Doing something where you can see that you’ve achieved is also useful, such as bread-making, crafts or journaling.

Asked about the importance of supporting one another, Caroline refers back to the waka analogy and says that sometimes we need to board somebody else’s canoe and help; or allow someone into our space to support us.

“Be kind to each another – still. And yourself: be kind to each other and yourself.”

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For further information:

Nationwide: people experiencing any type of distress can free phone or text 1737 any time

To contact the Loss and Grief Centre Emotional Well-being Phone Call Service, call 027 443 8788, write to [email protected] or use Facebook

Earlier stories with other suggestions:

Running the isolation marathon

Support at the end of the line

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