Amongst the plethora of information flooding our inboxes and the media constantly reminding us that lockdown is a time of unlimited opportunities for self improvement, I find myself writing in praise of ‘being’ as well as ‘doing’, of not being over-contactful, not filling up our time with a new skill or hobby but allowing for a period of quiet reflection.
For many this is a time of fear, for some there is a resurgence of unhelpful coping patterns and for others it’s overwhelming. Our responses are deeply personal. My suggestion is that the very useful mental health advice to limit our consumption of news to reputable sources and to a particular time of day, also works for the tide of supportive Facebook messages, emails and Instagram posts we receive. Even positive uplifting information can feel overwhelming!
Whether you are a person of faith or not it’s interesting to note that in the Christian calendar it is currently the time of Lent leading up to Easter. In this tradition Lent is a more inward looking time, a time for being more frugal, a time for ‘going inside’ for a while. How pertinent to the times we are living in at the moment. Perhaps we could use this time in a similar Lenten way?
So, lets think carefully about who we really want to be in contact with, let’s be discerning with our contact lists, let’s not engage with the downward spiral of feelings of guilt or failure if we don’t warm to the opportunity of learning a new skill. Ultimately let’s remember there is no ‘right way’ of doing or being during these lockdown days, if we can embrace what works for us, we may find that our opportunity is one of Quiet.
How often have you had a stressful day got home and reached for the chocolate or biscuits? Or missed your lunch so you can go out for a meal later? Or just ‘forgotten’ to eat during a busy day?
All of these are common examples of how food plays a major part in our emotional lives. You may not have considered the link before but what is it you are actually saying when you reach for those pick me up chocolates? If you are tired, sleep, if you are anxious take some deep mindful breaths and if, underneath it all you are sad, angry or even joyful, BE those things! Eat if you are hungry.
Our individual relationship with food is unique, developed by experiences as far back as we can remember. Parents who tell us to clear our plates, who praise or punish by giving or withholding food and by constant exposure to the cultural images of our time.
The first step towards discovering more about your own relationship to food is to bring some conscious thought to it. This sounds simple but we often spend more time justifying some rather dubious thoughts about our eating habits. How about the one about not eating now in order to eat later? What sort of message are we giving ourselves when we do this? Not only is this kind of thinking detrimental to our emotional wellbeing it also deprives our bodies of essential energy required to function adequately for the rest of the day. It is also shown to lead to compensatory over eating later.
So, during the next week spend a little bit of time staying conscious around what you are really saying about what you need as you eat. We are all hungry for lots of things in life; let food be the answer for you when you are stomach hungry and for those other hungers? Meet them, talk about them, stretch yourself and see if you can make something different happen this time.
Having a regular confidential place to reflect has been shown to help us to manage our feelings, consider our life experiences, think about what we do and why, and develop insight. Addressing any of these can improve self-esteem and confidence.
I am very happy to talk to you about your particular requirements so please feel free to contact me on 01635 226880 to make an appointment, or email me from the website. I specialise in working with:
- Body Image
- Coping with stress, depression and anxiety
- Relationships and parenting
- Identity Issues and personal growth
- Living through life transitions; redundancy, illness, grief and loss, pre and post natal support.
- Clinical supervision for counsellors, psychotherapists and complementary therapists.