I feel quite confident in saying that these last few months one word has been on everyone’s mind: HEALTH.
Qualified as a clinical psychologist, health is a part of my daily life: Mental or Physical. Our Mind and Body are highly connected and therefore one influences the other.
I cannot anymore count the number of clients that have looked at me with bafflement when they realise that what they thought was a heart attack was actually a panic attack, or what they thought was some gastrointestinal/ digestive issue was actually caused by a generalised anxiety disorder.
Your mind affects your body, and your body affects your mind. Therefore it is crucial to look after both carefully.
After testing positive with COVID-19 and spending 10 days in self-isolation, I feel like I have once again had a reminder of the deep connexion between body and mind and the importance of self-care.
Two weeks with Covid-19
I want to highlight that this is only my humble experience of self-isolation and Coronavirus, but obviously everyone is different.
The first week it felt like a cold. I had a runny nose and lost my sense of smell and taste. But no cough! I was expecting the cough. I almost waited for it to start at any moment, but nothing happened. For the first week, I mostly slept and waited to see what would happen…
I felt much more tired than usual and slowly my morale begun to decline.
Was this gloomy feeling the result of self-isolation?
Or was it the result of my body fighting the virus?
I think it was both!
I am usually fairly active but I am mostly not an indoor type of person. I like to be out and about so this was a radical change in my routine. My body and my mind did not have much energy to function. It felt as though they were giving everything to keep me safe and keep me going. Both of them quickly got drained by the efforts they had to put in.
And then the real fight started!
With a normal cold, after the first week I would have expected to feel better but this time it is actually when it started to feel worse.
Perhaps I was one of the lucky ones though! I never felt that it was life-threatening! I could breathe. I believe the virus did not affect my lungs (as far as I know).
But let me say it - it was tough!
I did not move for three days. I could not eat and barely drunk any water.
I could not stand up. I could not walk. My body was aching. My head hurt to the point of feeling nauseous.
I was confused. I felt disorientated. I lost track of time. The only reason I knew that 3 days had gone by was the daylight that I could see fading through the curtains to let the night come and another day begin. I was counting the days! I just hoping that it would end soon. I wished my time away so this could come to an end quickly. I had faith that this would not last and so I needed to be patient and just wait for these symptoms to pass… and they did!
I am ever so grateful for my body and my mind that have once again performed miracles for me! I truly believe that my mind had as much to do with my recovery as my body.
I had faith that I could recover and that it would pass!
But what if you don’t?
What if in the middle of this terrible illness you panic and wonder if you are going to be ok?
What if this feeling of loneliness due to the self-isolation hit you hard and you doubt your ability to carry on?
What if you get overwhelmed with self-doubt?
Today is The Day
I have seen first hand the impact that your mental health can have on your physical health. I have experienced myself how our self-doubt can set us up to fail and how stress can drain all our energy out of us.
The mind and the body work together on the journey towards recovery. Therefore having a healthy mind is as important as having a healthy body.
I wanted to share this with you today, because if you wonder when it is a good time to start looking after your whole self - your Mind AND your Body - it is TODAY!
I read somewhere that ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is right now! So let’s get started!’ Let’s plant the seed today to get this magnificent tree!
The first step in any journey is to get to the starting line! So today let’s get there! Let’s START looking after our mind and body.
Beginnings are never easy. We doubt ourselves. We feel that we will just suck at it!
We worry about ‘what if’ and we just want to give up before even starting!
But if you never start, you will also never get anywhere!
If you do not start looking after yourself, you will never see any changes happen!
And slowly I can tell you it gets easier. You will get better at it and then you will even be great because, as we say in English, ‘Practice makes perfect’!
How to get to the starting line!
Check how you are feeling.
Fear and Shame can be very powerful and can make decision for us. They are sneaky and often disguised themselves in fake protective or rational statements. They can stop you from achieving your goals, hiding behind false pretences:
We think we are protecting ourselves
We think we can’t do it so it’s not worth the efforts
We convince ourselves that things are better this way...
We tell ourselves that this is just not for us, we don’t really like it anyway.
But deep down, is it really what we think?
Or is it
The FEAR of failing?
The FEAR of change?
The FEAR of other people judgement/ shame?
Check your feelings and if they are making the decision for you.
2. Have a Vision: What’s your end goal? What’s your dream self?
Allow your self to dream. Having a vision can help us to keep going and visualising this end goal can help our mind to stay focus.
What’s your purpose? Your dream?
7 years down the line where would you like to be?
Who do you want to be? What kind of man/woman do you want to become?
What do you see when you see your best future self?
What would you be proud to have accomplished?
Write down how you visualise your best future self somewhere where you can see it everyday.
3. Define the small steps
You do not get off your sofa and start running a marathon. Prior to run the marathon, I had a 3 month training plan clearly designed with UT Health Hub. Each day I had small run to do and each form a part in getting me ready for the big day.
Your Best Future Self will not appear without preparation. Change is a journey - not an event.
To get to the best version of your future self, what fo you need to do in 3 years, 1 year, 3 months?
So what are the small steps you can take to get there?
What can you do tomorrow that will bring you one step closer to your goal?
What would you like to work on in the next few days?
Why not think about little things that your future healthy self would do and start doing them?
Give your self three goals/ steps to do every day.
4. Ask for help
At RESET Psychology and UT Health Hub, we believe in the power of community and connection. Myself, Alex and Liam got together because we believed that together we could make a difference. A strong sense of belonging and connection can keep you going when you have to overcome obstacles.
Join a support group. Remember you are not the only one who struggles - we all go through ups and downs.
Ask your friends or family to support you. We all get scared of the unknown. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be daunting so having someone by your side can be a great support to get you started
If you do not know where to start, contact a professional for one to one sessions online or face to face.
I am no different than you. One day I just started. I went to the starting line and took the first step and just kept on going… What is the result?
Today I am truly grateful for my body and my mind and all the hard work that they have put to get me back on my feet.
So Join Me Today to the starting line…