The easing of lockdown restrictions here in the UK is without doubt bringing feelings of hope and light for many but I feel it’s important to acknowledge that will not apply to everyone. Firstly, however quickly or slowly we are returning to any kind of familiarity the world as we knew it now exists with the ripple affect of the pandemic and that in itself is enough to bring about at least some apprehension and at worst high levels of anxiety. We are returning to a world in which a virus lives amongst us and a need to take great care of each other and ourselves, which is possibly unchartered territory. I have no idea how best to navigate leaving our homes more frequently and returning to activities and socialisation but I do believe there are 2 important feelings that might be able to help, which are gratitude and compassion.

Gratitude can sound very trite but when connected to on deeper level is a very simple yet powerful tool, for example in this context it could be as easy as taking time to acknowledge and be thankful for feelings of happiness and excitement about reuniting with people and the world, if that is your current experience. This might then help bring about a greater sense of presence and ease which could be hugely supportive for anyone around you who isn’t finding things as easy.

It can be very difficult to be kind to ourselves if we perceive that we are struggling or not finding things easy so beginning to connect with some level of inward compassion can also be a very useful and supportive tool. In my experience finding compassion towards myself is work in progress but has become easier with time & practice and the more I have connected with it inwardly the more I am able to offer outwardly. I feel it’s important to add here that is not related to the ‘if you cannot love yourself how can you expect anyone else to love you’ notion (with which I firmly disagree having been loved by others during difficult times when I’ve not been able to be the best of myself). It’s about acknowledging that you feel however you feel and treating yourself with the same love and care that you would a loved one. Here are a few ways of connecting with compassion when feeling anxious/uneasy/apprehensive….

Taking some time to sit quietly and notice where the feelings of unease are within your body then use your hand to give that place (or places) a loving rub to help encourage some ease before resting the hand there whilst you breathe and with each breath invite some space/love/healing into that spot.

Acknowledge your thoughts are just that – thoughts. It is the nature of the mind to create thoughts but although they are not reality try not to push them away, let them be and notice how they are making you feel. Invite them in and invite them to leave, sometimes when we allow the mind to wander rather than trying to control it the thoughts start to feel less powerful and can become less frequent.
NB – it is VERY important to not force yourself to sit with any thoughts that are uncomfortable or disturbing and also recognise that it might be more compassionate to use simple guided meditations or listen to relaxing music instead. Even more importantly if your thoughts are continually distressing it may be worth seeking guidance from a mental health professional.

Take time out to show yourself an act of kindness, such as be listening to music, reading, sketching, writing, having a cup of tea, sitting outside, going for a walk, a long soak in the bath or an early night. Remind yourself on a regular basis that you are very much worth taking good care of.