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Control and change

January 12, 2021  |  by Callan Kelly

In the face of sudden or large-scale change, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of worrying excessively about things that are beyond our control. Dealing with any new situation or environment is often going to be uncomfortable or stressful, however the ongoing situation with regards to lockdowns and all the other measures that have come with them is one that most of us wouldn’t have been able to imagine just a year ago.

It’s very easy to project ahead and wonder where we will be a year from now. In a world of 24-hour media, ‘escaping’ the gloomy COVID-related statistics is difficult, and just as we seem to be making progress we are returned to lockdown; some of us may have predicted it, others maybe not. Either way, it’s a lot for anyone to process and work through.

It can be hard to try and relax our grip, but in order to protect our mental health, we have to try. If we were to spend all of our time and energy trying to respond to things that are not within our ability to influence, then our mental wellbeing can become seriously affected.

So what if you are finding yourself in this negative cycle?

If you do find yourself worrying about something that you’ve seen or heard, then a technique that can be very helpful during these difficult times is to figure out and separate what is within your control and what is outside of your control.

Understand that during this pandemic the decisions made and measures implemented were always going to be divisive. Some people will hate them and some people (while they may not love them) will feel they are essential. Both sides of the argument will have valid reasons for feeling the way they do.

We can’t fight the COVID restrictions put in place, but we can live within them and we can control how we behave. If we all act responsibly and do our part then it will help us to come through this temporary set-back faster. Despite our feelings around the latest lockdown, it is likely that most will agree it’s a necessary evil. If you’re struggling to see what you should be focusing upon and what you should spend less time grappling with, here’s a helpful diagram that you can draw yourself and fill in.

As with anything, there will be positives to this year, they may not be obvious at first, but they are there. Communities have come together, we’ve all learned some things about ourselves and how we react to situations. Think about what these last few months have shown you. Maybe write a couple of them down and reflect on them, even share them if you want.

Perhaps take a step back from social media and rolling news. Check for updates on stories you’re interested in a couple of times a day but don’t bombard yourself! Although we may be physically isolated from each other right now, we can still pick up the phone or start a video call with someone. Reach out to friends and family, don’t be afraid to speak up if there’s something you want to talk over. It will massively help you to talk about something that’s weighing on your mind or causing you worry and concern. Let’s remember, we’re all in this together, perhaps in different ways, but we’re still together and for the most part, the aspects we cannot control are the same for us all. So let’s help each other focus on what is in our control and look after our mental wellbeing.

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