Often we coast through life and things are wonderful. We don’t think much about strategies to promote our wellbeing, beyond a bit of self-care after a hard day.
In the last two years however, I think we have all become increasingly aware that maintaining balance and positive emotions is something that requires work at times. When we experience challenge, it is important to have resources and understandings at our fingertips that we know help us maintain perspective, set healthy boundaries and assist us to recharge.
I’m a Melburnian, and with sixteen weeks of lockdown last year, our community had to dig deep to find things to play this role when we weren’t able to do many of the simple things that we perhaps do without really acknowledging them. These simple things that are important in creating these positive feelings in our lives: things like coffee with friends or going to the gym, yoga and art classes, screaming for our team at the football and getting away every so often. Instead, those who were able to be strategic and come up with new ways to get similar outcomes, had the best chance to cope during lockdown. Many of us embraced catch ups via Zoom or Facetime. Some took up new hobbies – perhaps even ones that we had in our childhood like Lego and puzzles. Many of us baked, and laughed at the many memes that described a sourdough starter as the ultimate lockdown accessory. We learned to appreciate new and simple joys… some of which stayed with us and others which faded over the summer months last year when life really felt like it was getting back to normal.
This year, we have had three short lockdowns in Melbourne, and have counted our blessings that we aren’t in Sydney. While Sydney is about to enter its seventh week of lockdown as I write, we have had 31 days in three stages. While none of these – for me at least – required the same amount of creative thinking that the two long ones last year did (as we always seemed so close to coming out), they did take their toll. Maybe we are starting to realise that for the foreseeable future, lockdowns may be something we have to manage at times. We may have to live with that uncertainty for some time.
In which case, we need to make an effort to remember the strategies we put in place last year.
Earlier this year all students made a Personal Wellbeing Plan with their Mentors, and we encouraged staff and families to do the same. This aimed to document things that we had noticed during our wellbeing focus on Self-Monitoring that we recognized had a healthy impact on our lives.
But is it time now, to reflect on what we learnt during those two lockdowns last year, and add a section to our Personal Wellbeing Plans that references our #lockdownlessons?
Would documenting these strategies not only help us in the next lockdown, by giving us something we can refer back to straight away? To be ahead of the game, so to speak?
And let’s not forget the possible psychological benefits of even feeling like you are prepared. So that when the possibly inevitable happens – you know you have a bank of resources there? Remember that every time we write down plans and goals, we increase the likelihood of achieving them.
So that is my challenge to the community this week… reflect on those lockdown strategies that work for you, and make sure you add to your plan (or create one if you haven’t already) those things that support you in lockdown.
Photo by Katie Trifo from Pexels