Action Changes Things

I want to stay up to date with what is happening in our community here in Victoria at the moment as we fight this insidious virus. I want to be alert to changes and to anything else we can do which might contain it. Yet our print, radio and TV media, is a depressing story of negativity. There is no good news. The more time spent there, the more risk to my mental health. Do any of you feel the same?

Social media has its negative commentators also, but there are many more good news stories there. There are many people supporting our leaders who are doing the best they can under extraordinary circumstances. There are plenty of people making commitments to doing the right thing, encouraging all of us to work on this together. There are voices of hope and optimism that if we do work together we can beat this.

All of this negativity has the potential to make us all feel very out of control. We can’t afford to let these people, who have a problem for every solution, impact our mental health and well-being in a destructive way. That’s what we need to be prioritising in these challenging times.

Controlling what we can control, and letting go of what we can’t, can make us feel we are making a difference. What we can control is what is happening in our own lives, making the practical decisions that reduce our stress and empower us.

I’ve created a checklist of decisions we all need to make and/or consider, especially if we are experiencing great stress, worry and anxiety at this present time.  They are decisions around our finances, our work, our health and well-being, our housing, our overall life-style and around our businesses if we have one.

Some of these decisions may well be difficult because they are usually the areas of our lives which we don’t want to change. They are where we are most settled and comfortable. They are the areas around which we have built our identity, both professional and personal, and our status. They are the areas that provide us with security and stability, in the midst of this adversity and the disruption it has caused. They are also, therefore, the areas where the greatest amount of psychological strength and mental toughness are needed to make the decisions that will see us able to resiliently respond to the adversity we face.

These are considerations that were not even on our agenda before this pandemic hit. In other words they weren’t on our agenda even 6 months ago.

Decisions about Our Work

  • Do we want to stay in this line of work, in this profession or industry sector? Is its future too precarious?
  • Is this the right time to engage in that university degree we have contemplated doing for the last few years to gain that qualification that would enable us to do work we would love to do?
  • How could we manage that financially?
  • Do we want to spend so many hours every day travelling to work or do we want to work in a job where we can work largely remotely or closer to home?
  • Do we want to continue working or living in this big metropolitan city or should we move to a regional area or even interstate?

Decisions about Our Finances

  • Do we need to begin looking at where our money is going because we haven’t had time to do this before?
  • Do we want to continue to carry this million dollar plus mortgage or should we downsize to a smaller place or even to a geographical area where housing is less expensive?
  • If we stay here, can we re-finance our mortgage?
  • Can we afford to continue to pay private school fees?
  • Should we sell our investment property?
  • Is out superannuation fund performing well enough and are its fees reasonable or should we change to another?
  • Is our bank giving us the best service or do we need to rethink whether our money and our financial future would be better looked after somewhere else?
  • Do we really need subscriptions to 4 streaming services?
  • Are we getting value for money from our membership of all those organisations to which we pay an annual fee?
  • Needing another car, do we really need a new one or could we buy a good car second-hand?
  • Can we get a better deal on our health insurance, our internet, phone and energy plans?

Decisions about Our Business

  • Is it viable to continue our business in this environment? Should we cut our losses and close it down?
  • If we did this, have we a plan for what would do instead?
  • Could we make our business sustainable by changing our business model?
  • Could we sell it or merge with another business to create something viable into the future?
  • If we did an overview and adjustment of our overheads could we continue to operate?
  • Could we diversify our product and/or service offering?
  • Do we need to let some of our employees go?
  • Do we need to move to a smaller building where the rent is far less?

Decisions about Our Health and Well-Being

  • Is it time to renew our commitment to maintaining our physical health?
  • Have we found a way to exercise that energises us and lifts our mood?
  • Do we need to re-evalaute what we are putting into our bodies – food and drink?
  • Is it time to seriously address our sleep pattern?

More important is our mental health and well-being. Being socially connected is one of the best “treatments” for enhancing our mental health, yet it is the part of our lives most disrupted by this COVID crisis.

  • What are we doing to counteract the social isolation that the lockdown demands?
  • Are we using technology to stay connected to people?
  • If we can’t avail ourselves of its full potential, who could we ask to help us?
  • Are we engaging with neighbours over the fence or from our nature strips?
  • If we are in an area where we can mix in small numbers, can we reach out to others to walk with us or meet for a coffee?
  • What are we doing, besides exercise, to manage our stress levels? Can we use this time to learn yoga, mindfulness, emotional freedom technique (EFT), meditation, or pilates?
  • Have we searched the many great Apps available in these areas?
  • If we are finding this a very difficult part of our lives to manage, will we seek help, first of all from our GP, either in a face to face visit or via a telehealth call? Or go to websites like beyond blue which have great resources or phone Lifeline.

If we sit down with this checklist either by ourselves or with the significant others in our lives and have these important discussions, the outcome may well be a greater sense of control over our lives and we may also find greater peace and calmness in an otherwise crazy space.

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