Overwhelmed in lock-down?

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed?

Many of us are struggling with our children’s education during lock-down. It can be easy to fall into the trap of expecting ourselves to get the same results as our children’s teachers. This is a mistake that can make both ourselves and our kids feel worse. Are you a teacher? Even if you are, many of us are also juggling working from home as well as managing household tasks. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as we try to be all things to all people. 

Breathe and remind yourself, these are unusual times.

There is no road map for this. Just like the Government and the schools, we are making this up as we go along. Trying to carve out a new existence but holding onto the old pressures. Every single one of us is carrying the stress of the unknown. Few of us perform well under these kinds of stresses. Why are we expecting ourselves and our children to carry on as if this isn’t happening?

Children are struggling with uncertainty and motivation too.

My children are struggling to motivate themselves with their education. To be fair they weren’t highly motivated to start with but lets be honest, it”s hard to stay motivated. Particularly for those kids who don’t have a “why”. What I mean by that is: a reason to push themselves to do a task that holds very little interest for them. Remember our kids are struggling to make sense of the world at the moment. Its difficult to know what’s going through the minds of young children or recalcitrant teens. Even before lock-down my youngest stated “there isn’t going to be a future” (responding to his fears around climate change). Adults as well as children are struggling to visualise what the future might look like, and what their place might be in it. Would you study if you could soothe yourself by chatting to your friends, watching videos or playing computer games? We need to show ourselves and our children a compassionate response to our fears and the conditions we are now living under. The future has lost some of its sparkle and no-one really knows when it will be back.

Get some support

Do you need further support in this area? Register your interest here for either a private consultation or to join an online parenting group? Register your interest here.

What is Self Care?

The term self – care is used quite a lot these days but what does it mean? For many it means finding the right life- work balance. For me self -care starts with understanding my own needs and to do that I need to be able to tune into my body and listen to what it is telling me. Before I discovered Gestalt Psychotherapy back in 1998 I had no real understanding of my own needs beyond basic needs such as tiredness, hunger and thirst. My priorities were being a good student, a good employee, pleasing others and basically spending my time “doing” and keeping busy. I struggled to allow myself time to relax unless it happened to also please someone else. I pushed myself so hard that my body eventually fought back. I developed Fibromyalgia. Chronic pain and fatigue. My body said “ENOUGH!” I had no choice but to learn about self-care.

Which areas of our life does it cover?

Self-care is unique to everyone. It is not enough to say self -care is about learning to relax and take breaks from our busy lives it is more than that. It encompasses many areas of our lives such as:

  • Health and physical well being
  • Psychological well-being, self awareness and self reflection
  • Emotional well-being and self compassion
  • Spiritual well-being
  • Personal fulfilment, meeting our goals and desires
  • Professional / work well being

4 simple ways to increase your self-care:

  1. Start a “Happiness list” on your phone

This is a document where you start to list everything that makes you happy. Ranging from your favourite food or beverage or a soak in a bubble bath to rock climbing, water skiing, or planning a round the world trip. It should ideally include a whole range of price and time brackets so that there is always something you can do from your list no matter how short on time or money you are. The beauty of it is you can add to it anytime you find yourself laughing out loud or getting a warm glow.

2. Keep a journal

A journal is an excellent tool for self reflection and for getting to know yourself. It can also help sort out your priorities as you tap into your own inner wisdom.

3. Practice Self- awareness

Develop your self awareness of what exactly your needs are so that you can find ways of meeting them. It can also help you to recognise when your life is in balance and when you might be neglecting your needs and sliding towards depletion.

4. Find a retreat or join a group with others trying to do the same thing. Look here https://www.rachael-kellett.co.uk/groups/

Are you depleted?

In my opinion the biggest threat to mental health for this generation is depletion. Every person who walks through my door is suffering from depletion in one form or another. Regardless of what other issues a client is bringing to work on, this has to be worked on first.

What are the signs of depletion?

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability or a lack of patience
  • Low mood
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Reduced enjoyment of life
  • Increased reliance on alcohol, sugar, caffeine or drugs to keep you going

What are the causes of depletion?

The causes of depletion are everywhere we look. Here are some examples:

  • Work
  • Parenting/Grand-parenting
  • Caring for others
  • Body image
  • Social media
  • Relationship issues
  • Leisure time
  • Education or professional development

Look at the list, some of them will apply to you more than others but ultimately it is the quest for perfection that depletes us. It is worsened by the media-portrayed ideal which leaves us all feeling not enough. As a result, we all need to work harder to reach what we perceive to be, the level everyone else has already achieved. For some people the need to please is to prevent rejection. For some this can lead to profound levels of shame. When we experience shame we may believe that we are completely worthless, this can lead to destructive behaviours, such as  addictions and anger issues and a decline into depression and mental illness.

Every time we are doing something we “should”, be it chores, work or  pleasing others, we are depleting ourselves; and every time we do something which gives us joy and makes us feel alive, we are nourishing ourselves. The key is to get these outgoings and in-goings into balance. Most people spend all their time doing the “shoulds” and end up running on empty. By focusing on nourishing yourself you will make yourself more robust and you will cope better with unwanted or stressful life events.

What can I do about it?

The old airline analogy of the need to put on your own life jacket first is a good place to start. If you don’t start looking after yourself you won’t be any good to others. Make self -care a priority. You can do this by:

1. Blocking out times in your diary just for you,

2. Instead of filling your time with jobs on your to do list, put some fun or relaxing activities on there and check them off too,

3. Reading my blog on self-care. https://www.rachael-kellett.co.uk/what-is-self-care/