This week’s blog was written by Headspace Guildford’s fantastic Assistant Psychologist, Gabby Donaldson. It’s so brilliant because it reminds me of the rainbows that went up in everyone’s windows the first time we went into lockdown. So read on for ways to use strategies or find hope in difficult times.
‘When it rains, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.’
I have always loved this quote by Oscar Wilde as it reminds me that whenever times get a little tough, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The year 2020 has really been one of a kind and one of the most difficult years we have had to face as a community. As we head towards another national lockdown it is easy for many of us to lose hope in the face of the pandemic, fear the uncertainty, struggle with having to be apart from loved ones again as well as face several other challenges which may seem impossible to deal with. Understandably, there is so much worry and fear going around at the moment. But I encourage you not to let this define you, don’t let this pandemic defeat your strength. Yes, it may seem a little easier said than done but I want to share with you a couple of things I have learnt over the years to help me cope with worry. We have worked through one lockdown already and we can work through this one together!
The first thing I want to talk about is gratitude. I understand that when we are faced with fear and worry, it can be rather tricky to think of the good things we have in life. This was something I found tricky when I was younger as I used to worry about a lot of things. Because of this, my mum taught me all about gratitude and the importance of taking notice of the little things even through the toughest of times. So, from then on this was something that I focussed on and have done so for many years now. Every night before bed I write down (or even just think of) 5, and often more, things which I am either grateful for or have made me happy that day. These can be really simple things like the sun was shining today, someone smiled at me or I finally managed to get to the bottom of my laundry pile! Focussing on these little things each day have really made a difference and I encourage you to give it a go. This is something that both adults and children can do, and it can be done alone or together. If you like arts and crafts, one thing to try could be making a ‘happiness jar’ where you put all the things you are grateful for into the jar, so they become a memory and something to look back on. All you need is an old jam jar and bits of paper. So, my first little lockdown challenge is to give this a go. Try and think of 5 things each day which have made you feel happy or that you are grateful for. You can do this in whichever creative way you like, and this can be personal to you or you can share this with us if you like.
I also want to talk a little bit about mindfulness. When was the last time you took notice of the little things around you? When did you last pause the thoughts from the past and stop worrying about the future? Being present in the moment and practising mindfulness is key to improving our wellbeing and an easy way towards relaxation and boosting your mood. Taking notice is all about bringing your mind’s attention to the world around you and being present in the moment. Observe what is around you in the world and take notice of your thoughts and feelings as they arise. Savour the moment. This could be really simple things like listening to the birds, seeing what you spot in nature, or just stopping to feel the sun or rain on your face. Once in a while it’s important to put away electronics, stop texting, stop emailing, stop reading COVID updates on the news, and, instead, take notice of the world around you. By doing this you can reduce your worry, improve self-awareness and promote positive behaviour change.
So, I leave you with another lockdown challenge. I encourage you to start taking notice of the little things around you. This is my favourite time of year as the leaves change colour and there is a cold crisp in the air. So, for me, I take notice whenever I go out for a walk. Why not try it? Here are some ideas of how to take notice:
- Can you notice something which you haven’t noticed before? Maybe a tree, a post-box or the colour of the leaves?
- Look for colours, textures, shapes, reflections and shadows
- Get creative! Take pictures of draw what you can see
- Count how many NHS rainbows you can spot
Start looking for those rainbows. Search for those stars. And take notice of the little things.
We are thinking of you through these challenging times. Stay safe and remember we will get through this together.