Feeling saturated from multiple crises? Having to put the hat on and refocus on the next demand of you? Or perhaps you are feeling limited or compromised in how you can enact your duty in the face of COVID-19?
For many of you at the coalface responding to one major disaster after another, the various, and sometimes hourly, changes in operations leaves little opportunity to take a breath, to make sense and meaning out of your experience and the broader community experience, or to connect to the things that make you,… you. These opportunities for a brief pause, nurturance and connection are so important and help restore energy and capacity to deal with ongoing and heightened levels of anxiety, confusion, anger and fear that surrounds you either from the community at large or within your workforce.
There is also the added, and sometimes competing, layer of the reactions of your family – the additional demands placed on them, their concerns for you/your welfare and desire to reinstate a sense of normality. Perhaps they are dealing with other stressors around health, changed childcare/schooling arrangements, financial pressures or work demands as well.
Sometimes it can result in you feeling detached and robotic to shield yourself from getting hooked-in to overthinking and to all the feelings and needs in, and around you. This is the armour that gets us through- its necessary and protective and we all need it, though sometimes with lengthy periods of stress, it can become more normal to wear the armour than to not.
So, in order to not deplete yourself entirely or to dispose of the armour completely (leaving you vulnerable), you need to know when you need to put it on and take it off and how to keep it flexible; like oiling leather so it doesn’t crack- we need wellbeing balance.
Wellbeing domains that contribute to our view of our wellbeing include:
Standard of living
Achievement in life
It’s worth taking stock on how you are tracking in each of these domains, maybe in comparison to yourself at another time in life, or where you expect the ‘norm’ is. These domains tell us about the overall level of satisfaction we have in life at any one time and may be the cue that you are distancing or detached in an aspect of your life. In the Beyond Blue survey ‘Answering the call’ it was found that employees in the Police and Emergency Services sector had much lower levels of wellbeing than the general population. Only six percent of employees had high wellbeing compared with fifteen percent of general population, while over thirty percent had low wellbeing, double the expected number.
So, if it seems that life is not as balanced or enriched as it needs to be in order to be satisfying or sustainable, it might be time to invest energy in some of the other domains. Even just small changes help tip the balance back towards an equilibrium; something to consider particularly during this taxing time.
During periods of high demand, it is understandable, if not expected that capacity for having true balance is unrealistic. But on the flipside, it is also unrealistic to operate effectively with imbalance for an indefinite amount of time. Building insight and awareness of the characteristics of wellbeing and how you are measuring against them is really important to support you through tough times and to assist the reconnect following/between significant events.
Questions like: … when was your last holiday, when did you last exercise, when did you last have family time, when did you last choose the healthy option rather than the convenience meal, what’s your sleep been like, when was the last time you spoke to…, how are you tracking with your savings goals, have we truly talked recently, should you have that next beer, etc. Everyone’s way of defining these domains will differ.
Take a moment, pause, reflect and notice if there is imbalance, then get creative or courageous to make a small shift, even if you’re exhausted by life at present.
Natasha, Fortem Psychologist.