Guess What? It's okay to have bad day during the pandemic! Honest!
Lately I've been looking at all the positive posts and tips and tricks on Instagram to help us manage our mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. The posts that remind us to keep a routine, keep up our exercise, watch our diet. The ones that remind us to focus on the positives and be grateful for what we do have....
And before I go further I am 100% in agreeance with all of these self-help tools that we can put in our coolamons to support our wellbeing and mental health during the pandemic....but we also need to talk about the great big wombat in the room! The one that try as you might to make a routine, to exercise, to eat well says "hey sis, this is pretty crappy! I'm not feeling so good.....I really want to have a great big cry!" "Hey brutha I totally get you are pissed off you can't go to work....you want to cry and scream"
These responses are ALSO VALID! We are living through something that we don't have a map for, to be honest I am not even sure the compass is still working! So I'm giving you permission to have a BAD DAY! YEP A DAY WHERE YOU GO "F" the routine and stay in your PJ's all day, a day where you go nope can't homeschool today! It's important we allow ourselves to feel all the feels, We are experiencing something akin to grief and loss and grief and loss does not always have a rational narrative.
BUT and this is the BIG BUT ( I like big buts and I cannot lie...sorry bad 80's kid reference there!) the trick is not to stay sitting in the burrow with that wombat for too long otherwise you will end up with a cranky wombat and you womba.
We all have mental health, and I have spoken of this in podcasts and with clients, mental health doesn't just appear when we are unwell, or stressed or experiencing a pandemic. It exists 24/7 but we have ZONES of mental health and these zones are similar to a traffic light system....
GREEN we are good, life is positive and we are feeling as though the coolamon of our emotions and mental health and family/community/work commitments are well balanced and varied......and we often wouldn't consider this to be a mental health state...we would possibly think of this as our "normal" (whatever normal is I"m 40 and still don't know)....way of going about our daily lives.
AMBER is where we can begin to experience some "mental health" issues, we may be sad, we may lapse back into mild symptoms of anxiety or depression.....we may be feeling stressed and like our coolamon is overloaded...but often when we are in the AMBER zone we are able to use our own self-help tools and skills to bring ourselves back into the GREEN zone. Often the AMBER zone passes, it can sometimes be situational e.g. stress related to finding a home or a new job or family situations that are eventually resolved. BUT we can also escalate to the RED ZONE.
RED zone is often the zone we identify a mental health issue is the possible problem. However sometimes we do go to the RED ZONE and it may not necessarily mean we need to seek help, it is a natural escalation of HUMAN emotion.....and let's face it....we are in a PANDEMIC.....it is reasonable to have a flight/fight/freeze response to this external situation we cannot control. AND THAT IS OKAY. You can have a RED DAY...you can have a FEW RED DAYS.. The trick is not to stay in this ZONE for too long! If we stay in the RED ZONE too long then we can start to experience physical symptoms that can impact negatively on our body as a result of a prolonged stay in the RED ZONE.
If you find yourself having a RED zone day feel into it, be gentle to yourself, if all you can do is make a cuppa and sit on the lounge and binge on Netflix all day, that's okay. If you need to order pizza because the thought of trying to cook another meal during lockdown at the end of working from home or caring for loved ones or homeschooling, that's okay.....WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT is you DON'T CAMP OUT in the Red zone. If you find that it is getting harder and harder to keep a routine or cook dinner or perform the basic tasks for yourself like showering or eating then that is the time to look at those self-help tips or reach out to a friend/family member or a professional! THERE IS NO SHAME IN NEEDING SUPPORT!
But if you are just having a rest in the RED Zone and you can't keep to your routine that day and you look at the cup and it is HALF empty this is okay too, the last thing you should feel is guilty about having a BAD DAY! We all have them! Even the people writing the self-help guides, the how to care for yourself during lockdown tips and tricks. HELL even this blog writer has had a few RED days. And if you feel like you can let people know you are having a crappy day.
And if you have wonnai you are caring for then it's okay to tell them your are feeling all the feels, in fact it may be a relief for them to know they don't have to be strong all the time, that it's okay to be upset and feel crappy......and it fosters open and healthy yarns about ALL the ZONES of our mental health......
For most of us we will return to the AMBER and the the GREEN zone and the wombat will go back into it's burrow....and if it doesn't that's okay too, it doesn't mean you are broken it just means you may need a bit of extra support to journey back there!
So in short I am saying be kind and gentle to YOURSELF! It's totally acceptable to have a crappy day in the middle of this crazy situation just don't set up camp with the WOMBAT!