The ‘trauma wall’ is a thing. People working in constant traumatic situations, war zones for example, experience them and they occur at roughly 6 month intervals. They last for about 3 weeks.
What we are experiencing in our lifetime now is unprecedented, not since the last world war have so many people had to sustain such levels of fear and uncertainty.
Since the end of march this year we have had the worry of illness, the pandemic itself, for ourselves and those close to us, worry about our jobs and income, about how those close to us are coping and the broader worry about our communities, the vulnerable and how we are guided to cope with this uncertainty and worry. All this on top of the usual worries and thoughts that we carry with us on a daily basis, and without our usual close connections and physical contact.
Stress becomes chronic after 6 months and we have hit that wall. A recent report of 1,500 people found that 90% of them said that they were struggling emotionally due to the pandemic. Symptoms of hitting the wall include depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, lack of energy, loss of focus, constant worrying, boredom and indecisiveness.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and can’t seem to drag yourself out of this fug, you’ve hit the 6 month covid wall. Those with experience of working in trauma situations have come to recognise this wall and that it comes in waves and that the key thing that you can do to help yourself through this is to recognise it and accept it. If the current situation continues (and let’s face it it looks as though it’s not going away any time soon) it might not be the only covid wall that you hit. Those with trauma experience say that it lasts about 3 weeks and that during this time you need, and should, take steps to help yourself through this.
The first step is a level of acceptance – accept that what you are dealing with is hard and that you’re not made for dealing with this continued level of stress. So don’t beat yourself up when you have those down days and don’t seem to get anything done. Be gentle with yourself, don’t try to get through the wall and know that it will end, you will start to feel better in a few weeks.*
In the meantime there are some things that you can do to help yourself cope:
Set yourself one task that you will complete each day: that might be as simple as having a shower or going for a walk, 10 minutes outside in nature is a known mood booster.
Try to create some kind of daily routine: it’s easy to lose sense of time and of ourselves without some structure, it adds to the feeling of being lost and helpless. This doesn’t have to be a lavish daily list including yoga, meditation and creativity – although each of these can bring positive effects – it could simply be making sure that you get up on a morning before a certain time, making sure you have 3 meals per day and having a restful bedtime routine.
If you’re working from home check your work space & routine: see if you can bring your office chair home and any other aids that make your workspace more ergonomically correct so that you are not creating postural, muscular problems, aches and pains. Remember to take regular breaks, set an alarm if necessary, and make your workspace a pleasant environment – have something close that makes you smile: a photo, flowers or a plant.
Make time each day to do something for you: be that taking time for a soak in the bath, reading a chapter of a book, spending time on a craft that you enjoy, sitting down to watch TV with a brew…
Take some time each day to properly breathe, maybe doing some simple breathing exercises when you take a break or make yourself a drink. One of the simplest is the box breath, there are many others online or on Apps.
Use aroma to help your mood, citrus and floral oils are generally uplifting and can be put to great use with diffusers and good quality candles with essential oils, my favourites are neroli and lemon balm.
In all of this remember that you are not alone in experiencing this, we may not all be in the same boat but we are all travelling through the same storm. The lack of contact and physical touch is having a huge impact on us too. Try to stay in touch with people, don’t pretend that you’re fine, acknowledge that you’re not, remember the phrase ‘it’s ok not to be ok.’
*If you find that you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, sadness, anxiety and loneliness for 4 days out of 7 each week you could benefit from some professional help. Here are some (UK) websites and numbers where you can seek that help and support in confidence:
samaritans.org.uk or call 116 123 (free 24hr helpline)
nopanic.org.uk (for help with panic attacks & symptoms of OCD)
papyrus-uk.org (young suicide prevention) HOPE Helpline 0800 068 4141
refuge.org.uk (help & advice for those experiencing domestic violence) 24hr helpline 0808 2000 247
cruse.org.uk bereavement help Tel: 0808 808 1677
In love & light my friends, I look forward to seeing you on the other side!