I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say that 2020 has certainly taken its toll. Stress, anxiety, depression… I’ve felt it all this year and I know I’m not alone.
We have all been negatively affected to a greater or lesser degree by the Covid-19 pandemic and now more than ever, it’s crucial that we look after our mental health and wellbeing. I feel so very lucky to have such supportive family, friends and colleagues who I can turn to when things get particularly tough and overwhelming, and I’ve found that even just chatting to clients on the phone can make me smile and feel more positive.
I attended a travel industry webinar a few days ago (you can imagine how uplifting that must have been! 😉) and one of the modules was led by a psychologist, who gave us a few tips and coping strategies to help us get through the difficult times that we’ve all found ourselves in. I wanted to share them with you, as I know that they certainly helped me to feel a little better, and perhaps they’ll help you to feel brighter today too.
Break the link between the situation and the stress
We were reminded that the degree of stress that we feel is all about how we respond to it, and it can actually be turned into a positive. If we remind ourselves of the anxiety that we are feeling, it can help us to perform better! The psychologist also explained that although from a professional perspective, we may need to plan for the worst case scenario to protect our businesses, it’s important to remind ourselves that in reality, there are other, better scenarios. Rather than catastrophising, think about the alternative possible outcomes, as none of us can predict the future.
You are not your emotions!
The clever psychology people call this strategy “affect labelling” but let’s just call it “naming your emotions” to keep things simple. If we give our feelings and emotions an actual label (for example, if we say to ourselves, “I am experiencing a feeling of hopelessness”), we remind ourselves that we are not the emotion that we are feeling, and that it is only temporary.
I was reliably informed that mindfulness is used as a training method for the Special Forces and it reduces fatigue, chronic pain and symptoms of depression. I certainly didn’t need anymore convincing to give it a go myself!
Mindfulness is all about focusing our minds on what we are experiencing at that exact moment, distracting us for a while from everything else that it going on in our lives (a lot of which, we don’t seem to be able to control at the moment). Take a few minutes to concentrate on your breathing and think about the five senses. What can you see right now? What can you smell? I have to admit, this all sounds very similar to my wine tasting training, so would it be completely inappropriate to grab a glass and focus on how it looks, smells and tastes for a minute or two?
Picture the future
This has been my favourite coping strategy so far, and it may actually be something that I can help you with! We were encouraged to spend 20 minutes writing about a positive, realistic future, and this exercise eases worrisome thinking and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone, apparently).
I wrote about my next birthday and in particular, I imagined having a lovely meal in my favourite restaurant with my family and my dog (Dexter is always at the forefront of my happy thoughts). I even imagined that we’d be toasting the celebrations with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs!
Having something to look forward to is so important right now and let’s face it, we deserve it! I know sometimes it feels like there’s no light at the end of this dark and depressing Covid-19 tunnel of gloom, but there really are better days to come for us all.
If the “positive, realistic future” that you are imagining is a trip to the vineyards with your friends and loved ones, please share it with us. We would love to help to brighten your day and it always makes us smile to hear about your plans. Give us a call on +44 (0) 1920 46 86 66 or drop us an e-mail on email@example.com.
In the meantime, We wish you the very best health and happiness during these trying times.
Jenna, Mark and the Grape Escapes team