MENTAL health counsellor and headlining comedienne Sheila McMahon has written a column for us on staying sane in these troubled times.
Sheila of course has appeared numerous times at the Palace Theatre with her mental health roadshow and here she is writing about ‘Inner Peace with Uncertainty’.
WE’RE all having to adapt in these difficult times. When the lockdown started, I transferred my face-to-face counselling business to an online service. I had to change my mind set.
Before I would have said, “I’m no good with technology”. “I just can’t do it!”. Thinking that way doesn’t help.
So, instead of saying, “I can’t!”, I changed it to “How can I?’’
Those three words have made a massive difference to how I have adapted to this current situation.
Another difference is gratitude.
At the end of each day I reflect on up to three highlights of my day. I am in control of what I focus on, so it makes sense to focus on positive things.
For those of you who feel out of control, you can choose to focus on what IS in your control.
You can make up a routine to create structure and control. You can decide to make the most of the time we have as it gives some people a chance to do the jobs they have always wanted to do.
You can also focus on other things in your control, such as helping the wider world by washing your hands, social distancing and staying indoors.
This reminds me of the joke about Snow White saying to the Seven Dwarves, “I want you all to stay at home during this pandemic to stay safe – except for you Sneezy, you can ‘eff off!”
Humour can be a fantastic coping mechanism. I’ve been setting time aside every night to have a good laugh, and have enjoyed jokes like such as: ‘I used to cough to hide my farts, now I fart to hide my cough!’
I’ve created some of my own funny videos, such as when I dressed as Sister Mary parasailing, and there’s a James Bond spoof too. They’re all on my YouTube channel if you fancy a giggle.
I’ve written a free online show about anxiety as a resource for the current climate, providing information about useful skills and coping mechanisms. Just visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwRF6v_zRHE&t=1929s to view.
In the show I talk about the stages of grief, and the rollercoaster of emotions we may be feeling.
All of us are experiencing loss of some nature, whether that’s loss of a loved one, or loss of your job, income or lifestyle.
That’s why it’s perfectly normal to feel okay one day and very low another.
As a counsellor and a survivor of mental ill health I encourage you to allow emotions like sadness or anger to surface and be off loaded in a healthy way.
‘Bottling up emotions can cause long term mental health conditions.’
I believe we need access to as many resources as possible during this time to help us minimise any long-term mental health effects.
I encourage us all to remember that ‘It’s okay not to be okay’
We are not robots, so we can accept going through many different emotions.
If you are feeling disconnected or lonely, then I encourage you to reconnect. Just texting someone to ask them how they are can make a big difference to both them, and you.
You can set yourself a goal of talking to someone every day. You can be a back-up partner for each other.
‘We can control what we think and choose how we respond to what is going on’.
I encourage you to become aware of what’s helpful and unhelpful in managing your stress levels.
You don’t have to watch the news if it makes you too anxious, and you can choose to not view social media if it’s putting you in a low mood.
You may be feeling anxious wondering what the new ‘normal’ will look like. If this is you, then I encourage you to think about how you personally want the new norm to be?
Do you want to go back to your life exactly how it was before? Is there anything you would want to change?
Whatever happens, trust that you will be okay.
You can say the following affirmation: I am at peace with uncertainty, I am okay with not knowing.
I encourage you to stay in the present, let go of the future and allow it to be what it will be, and trust that you will be okay.
If you have found this article helpful, then please share it as we continue to help each other.
If I can support with online counselling sessions or group sessions then please feel free to contact me directly.
Remember, we get to choose how to deal with this situation. As I read recently ‘I’m giving up drinking until this is over. Sorry, bad punctuation. I’m giving up. Drinking until this is over!’
I wish you all inner peace within uncertainty and laughter!
‘Remember we are not alone and we are getting through this together’.
For more from Sheila visit https://www.mindmanagementforyou.com/