YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK
Dee Chadwick
12 Apr 2020
Something that we need to remember particularly at this time. No – I don’t mean you can lift greater weights, carry out more difficult physical activities than you believe you can. I mean mentally, emotionally stronger.

THE ‘OBVIOUSLY’ STRONG ONES

We cannot help but be aware, no matter how much we are avoiding watching the latest news programmes, of the amazing strength – in all its formats – of those who are caring for people battling the COVID-19 virus. Their numbers decreasing through enforced isolation as the number of patients increases.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Then there are the carers. I was having a catch up call last night with a friend who is a carer. Her days were always busy, but now the team of which she is a part is reduced from 22 to 11, though with at least the same number of people requiring their support. The time she is able to spend with these vulnerable people is much reduced and this doesn’t sit well with her patients, or with herself.

Then there are those in our supermarkets, pharmacies and their supply chains attempting to meet the demands we are making for food, prescriptions, our daily necessities.

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US

We also are strong, though not in what is such an obvious way. Personally, I was called upon to find physical strength that I actually don’t possess yesterday. I needed to move large containers out from their over-wintering in my greenhouse, to enable me to clean and prepare for the planting of my tomatoes etc. These containers were moved inside by stronger arms and shoulders than mine. With much self-talk, and not a little use of a few swear words, I did it. OK, I couldn’t physically lift them, but I could drag, shuffle and inch them off the soil, over the lip of the greenhouse and gradually to their outdoor positions. OK, it took me ages, but time isn’t something that is in short measure at present! I did it, then collapsed in a heap with a cuppa in my hands whilst I watched a pair of gold crests tapping away at my outside mirror, completely unaware of the mayhem going on in this world of ours.

You too may be having to work your way around tasks you haven’t done before – give yourself a pat on the back for trying, probably by thinking out of the box as I had to do! Don’t resort to beating yourself up for not being able to ‘achieve by the direct route’ – remember, necessity is the mother of invention!!

Thinking outside of the box reminded me of working with a young man many years ago. I was a Special Needs Advisory teacher, and this particular young man was one for whom I was giving support. His class teacher asked me if I could help him with his understanding of magnetism. He had struggled when she had covered in class. I gathered the necessary resources and set to with allowing him to investigate things that a magnet would or wouldn’t attract as we chatted about this. I then I asked if he had any suggestions about other things that a magnet wouldn’t attract. He obviously went for out of the box thinking as he quickly came up with the response of ‘an upside down scarecrow’. There really was no answer to that apart from a categorical yes!

WHAT OF THOSE OTHER STRENGTHS?

Our inner strengths, maybe recognised as strength of character, mind, spirit, emotions? These, I feel are being drawn on by so very many at present as we hopefully do our bit to help. To help ourselves, our family and friends, our communities and beyond.

There are those of us who are out supporting family, friends, neighbours who may have previously been unknown. Doing shopping, supporting by phoning, sometimes doing seemingly small tasks, yet tasks which mean a lot to those in isolation.

There are those of us working from home, endeavouring to support others or support a business that may otherwise be another victim of the virus.

There are those who are educating their children at home, possibly combining this with home working. If this is the case, please do remember that one-one education is far more intense than classwork, so short work sessions interspersed with physical activity or other fun activities is the best way forward. No child needs to be kept occupied all of the time – a bit of good old fashioned boredom serves to get their minds into a different gear, to give opportunity for imagination and self-reliance to blossom and develop. Two qualities which will serve them well in later life.

Then there are those, like myself, who are self-isolating. I feel lucky in so far as I am self-reliant as a result of a childhood not dominated by being filled with organised things to be done. Add in a love of ‘doing’ either involving existing interests or trying out new ones. Throw into the mix an ability to do a ‘Jamie Oliver’ by looking to my store cupboard and getting inventive as far as eating is concerned. Skill sets that always have served me well.

For others, this isolation and a need for preventing the time from dragging by, may be a concept that you have not previously had to face. Let it therefore be a time in which you can actually get to know yourself. Take time to consider what would make you content with your current lot rather than rant about being fed up on social media. Yes, we all get fed up with our own company at times, and this does seem to be coming and going for many at present. One day we cope, then the next day, we find things more difficult. It’s at times such as this that it’s important not to beat ourselves up, rather listen to what our body and our mind is telling us.

The isolation, the knowledge of what is happening in the world around us can be emotionally draining. Add in that we may also get a feeling of uselessness, of not pulling our weight – a feeling that we need to dismiss as we ARE doing our bit by keeping ourselves as safe as we can from the virus. If we are keeping ourselves healthy, then we are enabling those limited hospital beds to be used for those who have succumbed to the virus. That really is, when put into the wider context of society as a whole, a positive role for us to play.

What if you hit that feeling of someone having pulled the plug on your physical, mental, emotional energy supply? Don’t try to fight it, accept this but add in that it too shall pass. Then throw away the big stick that you beat yourself up with. If you don’t have an open fire or wood burner to imagine it being consumed by flames, do as I suggested to someone I spoke with on the phone this week. Stand at your window and imagine throwing that big stick as far as you can. See it being picked up and disappearing out of sight between the teeth of a big dog – carried far away from you. Then, of course, give yourself a pat on the back for having done this and give yourself a reward – whatever suits you – for me, going out into my garden to commune with nature. Maybe catching up with some of the many tv re-runs around at present, or listening to your choice of music. Whatever you do, be considerate of yourself and be caring of yourself.

Don’t put yourself down – you really are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Just think of what you have already come through to get to this point in your life. The stresses and strains, the ups and downs, the kicks in the teeth, the disappointments. Things we have had to face up to, overcome and carry on, or sometimes when we’ve had to start all over again. Don’t get to comparing with what others have come through. Such comparisons achieve nothing apart from feeling a need to retrieve that big stick that you threw for that dog as you slip down the slope labelled ‘I should have’.

Chin up, shoulders back, a reminder to yourself that ‘I CAN DO THIS’ and be proud of the wonderful, unique, human being that you are.

Take care and keep well – if I can help, please do get in touch via my web site.

PS. To do ‘my bit’, I am offering any such support during the pandemic on a donation basis rather than the usual set fee.

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