Simple steps you can start now for a happier, calmer you
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
This year we have been confronted with more than we ever imagined. We have been forced to change our ways, and do it quickly, with little control of how and when.
I look around me and think people are coping amazingly well. At least, that’s how it seems on the outside. But, on the inside, are we managing? I know I have struggled.
When lockdown 2.0 was announced I was overcome with panic and fear. I hadn’t mentally recovered from Lockdown 1.0 before I was once again faced with Stage 3 restrictions. I simply didn’t know how I was going to cope the second time around.
Then I found (or was directed to) Bridget Murphy, a Holistic Health Coach who specialises in helping women manage stress and anxiety and prevent burnout. Her website, The Truest You, highlighted everything I was feeling, and offered ways to manage these overwhelming emotions. It was the shining light I needed.
Most of us, by the time we’re adults, have our ways to escape and unwind. We have the big-ticket items that happen a few times a year - holidays, a massage, a night out with friends. Or the more regular options, such as a trip to a café, the gym, a long walk or drive.
But what do we do when all our escapes are no longer available? Who would have thought we’d reach a point where we can’t leave our home?
“Co-vid lockdown has provided the space for things to bubble,” says Bridget, “and there are now less outlets available to us to relieve the tension.
“A lot of people I talk to are waking up with a weight on their shoulders, thinking ‘here we go again.’ They are overwhelmed and exhausted. They know they want things to be different, but they don’t know how, or it’s too hard to make the time.”
This is where Bridget’s coaching becomes so valuable – it can be applied immediately to anyone’s current circumstances. Her strategy involves weaving small actions, “mindful moments”, into our day, so that over time, as the moments become habits, they make a significant difference to our ability to cope.
“When we think about mental health, and people supporting their mental health, there’s a misconception that we have to do big things for it. I’m all about weaving actions into your day that seem basic and subtle, and linking these actions to habits you already have. Then over time, these actions start to create a positive impact.”
While all of us have faced stress before, Co-vid and the subsequent lockdowns have brought new pressures like remote learning, working from home, being completely out of work or having way more work than we did before. Our balance has been thrown off.
“With so much more going on, it’s easy to push emotional health back and to think about it later. However, the result is that when these issues and emotions do come to the surface, we react, explode or have highly emotional moments where we must completely remove ourselves from the situation in order to regroup.
“It’s an ongoing rollercoaster. I find that now more than ever, people are seeking ways to manage their emotions, trying to smooth out massive peaks and troughs.”
So why has more time at home made us all so much more emotional?
“We’re moving around so much less and have fewer distractions. Our bodies have slowed but our minds are racing because they haven’t had a chance to catch up to one another.
“It’s like when you lay in bed, but your mind won’t turn off; or when you get in the shower for your five minutes of alone time and suddenly have your best ideas. I think that’s what Co-vid lockdowns have brought us – more time to think and become much more self-aware.
“By learning to include the mindful moments throughout your day, you can start to calm your busy mind, appreciate the now, and switch to a healthier mindset.”
Weaving mindful moments into our day can be basic, but it needs to be done the right way. That is, a way that works so that it sticks.
“If you’re just starting out, try making these moments more structured by linking new habits to your existing habits.
“It’s about coming up with ways to signal to your body that you are safe. Otherwise we’re living in this state where our bodies are running on adrenaline and cortisol to give us energy to get through. And when the day is over, we crash.”
These ideas from Bridget can be used like anchors to help you notice, appreciate and be present in the moment you’re in:
Each time you pick up your phone, take a deep breath.
When you brush your teeth morning and night, say something you’re grateful for.
Before you get out of bed, say one thing you’re looking forward to the most each day.
Choose one meal a day that you sit down to without a screen in front of you.
When you go to bed, do a body scan from head to toe. Where is the tension? Where does your body feel open and free? Breathe into the areas that are tense and stagnant.
Each time you do something for yourself say, “thank you” or “well done”.
Talk about what is and isn’t going well with the family over dinner.
Of course, these steps are just a start. Bridget offers several services to personally guide people along the path to a more mindful life, including 1:1 sessions, and a membership program, The Truest You Collective. But how do you know if you need more?
“There is a misconception that I only work with people who are really struggling, but I encourage people to reach out before they get to that point. Many women who chat with me just know things can be better, and that is the best place to start – before it’s all too much.”
As well as practicing your mindful moments, Bridget recommends these tips to help us pull through this time in a healthier way.
You don’t have to pretend everything is OK. Let down the façade and be honest. If you don’t feel you can do that with your family, reach out for support.
Weave simple things into your day in a structured way. Don’t feel that to take care of yourself you need a whole hour in a bubble bath. Great if you can, but more realistic to do lots of small things every day because something is better than nothing.
Keep bringing yourself back to the moment. When you get overwhelmed, ask “what’s most important right now.” Ask it one hundred times a day if you need to but do it just so that sense of urgency goes away. It will mean you have more intention and focus on what’s right in front of you.
Show yourself some compassion and lessen the expectations you place on yourself. Being hard on ourselves only makes us feel worse. It never helps us change. Be gentle and kind to yourself, like you would an innocent child.
Bridget is based in South Melbourne, however through her website, she is available to anyone anywhere. She offers a range of services, starting with a membership to The Truest You Collective, all the way through to more personalised coaching.
To contact Bridget, and to learn more about her own journey, coaching and meditation, visit The Truest You.
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